Monday, August 17, 2015

The 1st European Migrant-Refugee Water Park



I have amazing friends and, rather than bitch about the way the world works, they come up with off-the-wall alternatives. One of those occurred just a couple of days ago while discussing the European refugee crisis at our doorstep.

Wouldn’t it be more useful,” my upstairs Brit friend suggested, “to take the miserable circumstances of these refugee holding-pens and build them water-parks?” I chuckled and asked him just how that would work.


Well, here they are,” he said, “having lost all hope, nearly all their possessions and facing near-death for months on end. They arrive as traumatized as a human can possibly be. What would be wrong with, instead of hatred, grudgingly penning them up and the threat of deportation constantly on the horizon, we put just a tad of pleasure in their lives and that of their children? Good god, would that be such a terrible thing to do?”

Now that the idea had been laid before us, it began to take shape in my mind and yes, he certainly had a good point at very little expense and possibly huge social consequences. My wife, another amazing friend, picked up the conversation.

I have often thought,” she added, “that among these refugees are many varied skills, not the least of which include bakers and car mechanics, doctors and businessmen, teachers and other professionals. Yet here they arrive and are warehoused, without the possibility to use those valuable skill-sets. Would it not make sense to establish these horrible and hopeless ‘camps’ as working villages?”

Build small towns instead of featureless barracks with nothing to do. Let the baker bake, the teacher teach and the wiser be wise.” She shifted into a higher gear that only I am able to recognize. “A community would spring up, within which trades might thrive and everyone would contribute according to their skills, the local language would seem worth learning and the rules would be set by the refugees themselves.” She paused and a gleam came to her eye. “All of it centered by a water-park.” My wife knows how to integrate ideas.

So there you have an idea by two non-sociologists that seems to me to have legs. They are not law-enforcement officers, nor do they represent the bureaucracy. They are both simply human beings who see life from the combined practical and human side of the equation. My Brit friend is a teacher and my wife is an artist. We need more such people involved in what might be done instead of what must be done.

Joseph Addison once made a statement I have never forgotten:

Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.”

It’s lovely wording and is best savored in the context of this discussion because it neatly fits both sides of the migrant-refugee issue. Europe has conferred none of these essentials on its migrants and has thus turned an opportunity into an almost insolvable problem. Were it considered by more enlightened minds, one can hardly argue that those who have risked everything for a new life are a bad societal bet.

Europe, like all countries where migrants seek a better and more-free life, needs the best it can find. My wife, my Brit friend and I all feel that those willing to sweat and suffer and drown their way across the Mediterranean represent the best of the best. The highly trained among them are a godsend and the least are of uncompromising value for their perseverance, willingness to begin new lives and skilled or unskilled trades.

It might all begin with a water-park right here in the Czech Republic. Stranger things have happened.