Europe’s southern border
The border of fear
Dr. Juan José López Jiménez
Caritas Agent and Gestalt Art Therapist,
Geographer, Gerontologist and Social Researcher
In its relationship with the world, the West, besides enjoying a historical and present injustice, suffers from a severe mental illness, an acute neurosis; it is afraid of pain.
In addition to being recognized, historical injustice should find a restorative justice that goes beyond the aid of development funds. These funds are meager, exhausted, and subject to limitation or reduction as soon as things go a little wrong in the developed world. It is not a question of helping but of sharing what belongs to all. It is not about developing a part of humanity up to thresholds that cannot be universalized or generalized. At the same time, most people suffer from this plundering and die in undignified conditions.
Development cannot be a society whose superfluous and unnecessary goods grow to infinity and beyond, causing so much suffering to humanity. I would rather say that this dehumanization characterizes us as underdeveloped beings, a sort of collective intelligence. The most significant and destructive counter value we import from the West is this dehumanization. This is “looking the other way”, or not looking. This game -that nobody believes anymore- that it is “lucky” that you were born here or there. And we are the lucky ones and the others, the unlucky ones. Let’s speak clearly; we are the exploiters, the ones with the heart of stone, the blind of the world, the dehumanizers, the responsible ones. Let’s stop playing “I don’t realize it” or handing out crumbs to ease our bad conscience. Are we people, families, adult nations, or are we still in that infantile state? The child is afraid and generates structural violence.
The bleeding of Africa is known to all. You can even contemplate from the satellite (Google Maps) the enormous lines of trucks with heavy minerals leaving the border of DR Congo to Zambia, in Kasumbalesa. Thousands of tons a day are smuggled out. Cobalt, coltan, uranium, copper, cassiterite, gold, and diamonds. It is the greed of the most developed world for natural wealth to sustain a standard of living that is not universalizable. A flow of hypocrisy is thus traced where goods circulate freely, and people are retained, impoverished, relegated to a world without a future, and abandoned.
Without a heart for the common good, we draw borders and build walls that dehumanize us. The Melilla fence is a metal construction to prevent Africans from jumping over. However, the deterioration of living conditions, the magnitude of misery, and the lack of hope have spread like a deadly virus in the lives of African people. More and more people are trying to escape from that hole, from that abyss created by the more developed world. It is not an assault but the leap to survive, towards the hope of a little better life.
The child is afraid of this pressure, and the structural violence exercised against Africa is overturned in the media by emphasizing the violence of Africans who want to enter and share with us what is theirs. The jump is violent; there are deaths. The security forces “defend themselves”, they do not attack. It is the Africans who attack and violate the established order by jumping the fence. That order has been imposed by force from the powerful, and they are very afraid. We turn those who want to jump the fence into aggressors or “terrorists”. We do it so that we can justify any intervention on them. Is it possible that we still believe that in their desperate movement for a better life, we still do not recognize ourselves as the leading cause of their hopelessness?
Europe, the United States, and China externalize the fences of the developed world to the South. We want to avoid the pain that can be caused by these growing events where humanity, struggling day by day to survive, knocks on the door to find a more dignified life. The southern border in Africa is no longer Morocco or Algeria but Senegal, Mali, Niger, and Libya. A violent belt of containment to prevent them from reaching the promised land, but above all, a barrier to avoid feeling the pain. We are becoming anesthetized, and we no longer get to see all the suffering and loss of human lives before reaching this belt of externalized borders. Europe fears pain and anesthetizes itself, so it does not have to feel it. Those who got the Melilla fence managed to cross that belt leaving many lives on the way. When they went to jump, some more died. Terrible to see…, sad, pitiful. And what we do not see? Surely, we would not have the stomach to digest it. We are responsible for the construction of this new wall of fear, a border so that we are not afraid so that the human pain that we ourselves provoke does not reach us.
Africa is waking up more and more every day, and they are not asking us to give them back what we have stolen, only to share the same future, with us, with the goods that can belong to all of us. This is not a violent leap but a due right. We know the African people, their capacity for resilience, for survival… they are not afraid. They are robust, tenacious, audacious, constant, and with a deep sense of humanity, more generous and global than western myopia.
The therapy of the West is yet to come, and it will only illuminate new humanity if it comes to its transformation from commitment. If we connect with each other’s pain, we can have empathy and compassion to build humankind together. We still have time to overcome this fear of pain, recognize our responsibility, be generous, be adults, and forge a hopeful future where we can all live in dignity.
Dr. Juan José López Jiménez