Since a very young age I remember empathising with sufferers. Suffering was something eerily fascinating to me, an expression of the soul, the mind and the body that manifests differently according to what you are suffering from. Exploring suffering was my way, as a youngster, to get closer to one’s vulnerability.
3rd October 2013 was the day when suffering tasted extremely bitter, and tasted like unfairness, death and many teardrops.
3rd October 2013 was the day when circa 366 refugees and asylum seekers died trying to reach the costs of Southern Italy. It was defined as one of the most terrible tragedies in the Mediterranean Sea after the Second World War. 155 people survived (41 of them were minors), 366 died and 20 were never found.
This tragedy hit me like a fist punch in my stomach. I was devastated and confused. But mostly, I could have seen my father or even myself among those people, as my family crossed the same Sea the same way those people did.
The sunken shipwreck that transported 386 migrants
Being a refugee is not a choice. Dying away from home, in a sea is not a choice. Putting unaccompanied minors on fragile boat is not a choice. And we must understand this, the same way we should try to understand why our indifference, fear of even xenophobia of refugees (especially if hosted in our countries) is dissociating us from the gravity of this humanitarian crisis. How, as human beings, have we come to turn our backs to this:
Red roses, teddy bears and flowers to commemorate refugees and asylum seekers who lost their lives during 3rd October 2013
Unknown body of migrant floating in the sea
Suffering is something we all feel deeply, and makes us do things we never thought possible from us. Images like these ones have the power to make us reflect on how we perceive the suffering that we see through a television screen, or read in a newspaper. We do feel moved, but we decide to move on and concentrate on other things. And outside the comfort of our lives, 3rd October 2013 happens every day. We render this humanitarian disaster a mere daily news that has us accustomed to feel sadness, but not too much. Anger, but not too much. Guilt, but not too much.
3rd October 2013 is a date recognized solely by the Italian government. However, I believe that such tragedy (and perhaps the lessons learned from it) should reach a wider public. And as mentioned before, the above pictures show us images that are constantly displayed on news channels, and is this constancy that perhaps strips such pictures from their true meanings:
Don’t turn your back to suffering, but act on it.