Refugees — Angela Merkel Stirs Me

David Sretenovic reflects on Angela Merkel’s leadership in the current global refugee crisis. She stirs many emotions as we contemplate our own position and response, ethically and sociologically.

Remain un-political with me for a moment (because I’m not forwarding a particular political barrow). Angela Merkel’s leadership is a spectacle of inspiring proportions. Here’s just a few stats which have made her the front-runner for the Nobel Peace Prize to be announced on Friday:

  • Merkel’s government has accepted an estimated 1 million refugees into Germany this year – 1.5 million estimated up to the end of 2015. This is staggering considering the whole of Europe will take in an estimated 3 million by 2017. This is in contrast to America’s 70 thousand in the 2015 fiscal year. Germany has received almost half of all asylum-seeking Syrians in Europe this year: 243,721 since January – more than 12 times the number that Britain will take over the next five years.” (Nardelli, 2015)
  • Merkel has a policy of “no upper limit” to refugees – “we will cope” is her mantra.
  • For Merkel: “Integration means following the rules and laws of the host country, getting a chance to “participate in society” and being placed into a community prepared to be tolerant and more multi-ethnic, she said.” (Eglitis, 2015)

For me personally, this woman is standing tall – towering – as a beacon of courage, and it’s evoking so much within me. As a Christian, to me the Bible is nothing if it is not a manual of how to show charity to my neighbour, a model of self-sacrifice, a passionate cry to see and “feed the least of these.” As a professional, I’ve worked with refugees and taught those seeking to merge with Australian society – I KNOW the gravity of the challenge and what’s at stake for both sides. Having a Masters and specialisation in socio-linguistics, I SEE the potentials as cultures come in contact. As a human being who has suffered and been a recipient of charity (indeed, my grandparents and father were received from Yugoslavia seeking asylum from persecution), I know that my inertia to give largely stems from these humbling moments. As a visionary and a shaper of future foundations, I cannot deny that I wish to have grateful, hard-working, “survivors” at the base of my children’s future society (not those drunk on entitlement); to me, these have proven to be the strongest boulders to build on, and the also the best of friends.

If I strain, I think I can get a glimpse of the immense burden on Angela Merkel’s shoulders. Her critics say she could be the reason for Europe’s current and future calamity. Her backers are trusting her as she goes out on a limb, way way way out from the safety quotas the rest of Europe (and indeed the world) regard as sane. I am not in the position of responsibility she is, nor can I hope to advise any global leader based on my relatively limited scope of informers. But this much I do sense: if she is right in her convictions, and if some deity has underwritten her insurance policy, she stands to become a modern day saint, and Germany stands to become some special, unique place which we in Australia will not understand – it’ll be some sort of heaven, but we won’t even recognize it.

Here are some of the interesting articles which stimulated these thoughts. The Guardian article by Alberto Nardelli is a must-read. Wow.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/nov/08/angela-merkel-refugee-crisis-europe

http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-11-17/german-response-to-refugees-puts-u-s-to-shame

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-11-17/paris-terror-uniting-east-europe-against-merkel-s-refugee-plan

 — David Sretenovic, 2015