Monday, January 28, 2008


I was humbled yesterday by our neighbour, who I spotted hauling a load of bags back from church. I offered to help and found that she was collecting clothes for inmates (detainees?) at the local Immigration Detention Centre nearby. I knew that conditions were scandalous in these places and made a note in the ‘Guardian reader’s outrage’ lobe of my brain without bothering to do any more about it. I do this with most things that trouble me morally, yet never anything practical or even symbolic about it. Yet the congregation of the local church in a staunchly Tory area are mobilising to help. I feel ashamed of myself.

It’s possibly a hyperbolic analogy, but I suspect that there were people in the communities around Nazi death-camps who were morally – but passively - offended about what was going on nearby or just chose to ignore it for the sake of a quiet life.

What I find most shocking about what my neighbour told me was not that entire families, including babies and pregnant women, are kept in appalling conditions. It’s the fact that the detention centre is run by a private company. Someone in a boardroom somewhere is making a fat profit from keeping families – people who have committed no crime – in squalid captivity.

So what am I going to do? Well, I’ve just joined Amnesty International, I’m giving clothes to the church and researching which organisation I want to join to campaign against these centres. It’s not much, but it’s better than my usual complacency…

1 comment:

Steve said...

Proud of you, dude.