By LUCY GREY
On Friday 12th July I was getting ready to go away for the weekend with my family, including our two daughters aged one and two. I was trying to pack the car in the space of a Playschool episode and watching my one- year old crawl enthusiastically from one end of the house to the other, stopping occasionally to laugh at a leaf, the dog or something else equally hysterical.
Somewhere further north of me a little one-year old boy slipped out of his mother’s arms and into the frigid, icy sea. While my little girl was giggling this little boy was gasping for his last breaths, presumably frightened and alone.
While I was packing my car and shovelling cheese sticks in my children’s mouths a mother was trying to cling to her baby, slippery and wet, clothes weighing her down, frantic to keep hold of her little boy.
This mother, like me, felt the pain of childbirth, cuddled her child to her breast after he was born into the world, named him, fed him, clothed him. She cared for him enough to risk her life, and his, to make the treacherous voyage to Australia in the hopes of a better life, no doubt for her son.
Since I read this news I have been gripped with sadness. I see this little boy echoed in my children and my heart breaks. As a parent all I want is to protect my babies and keep them safe and warm, I know that this little boy’s mother would feel the same and that somewhere she is grieving; heartbroken and desperate for the soft, warm weight of her little man.Babies don’t know culture or politics. They don’t care about bipartisan policies or processing centres. Babies understand the most fundamental of emotions: love, security, fear and pain. This little boy lost his life in the most frightening and fearful way imaginable, his gasps and cries muffled by the rough and turbulent sea.
This is not a political issue; this is a human rights issue. It is easy to hear the numbers on news reports without attaching any value to it. Somehow their humanity is lost in their quantity, or perhaps it is their alien culture that allows us to disassociate from them as individuals. Do we rationalise that because these people risked their lives that their deaths are less tragic and shocking, that they somehow deserve it? Perhaps we need to spend some time reflecting on the lives they are fleeing, and why they are exposing themselves and their families to such frightening risks.