This week’s New Yorker hosts a compelling read by journalist, Ben Taub, titled We Have No Choice. It is a story of young Nigerian girl, Blessing, and her journey from Benin City to Europe. The article covers so many topics. or should I say inhuman situations – human trafficking, prostitution, refugee conditions, smuggling, violence, blackmail – , those which need to be addressed, those on which no matter how much light is shed, isn’t enough.
Ben’s effort to communicate the story in all authenticity comes across immediately. It breaks off into different facets that are essentially a part of the migrant’s journey to escape the stagnant, poverty stricken conditions of a place which is home, onto “promised greener pastures”.
The naivety of the people living in these situations, it makes me believe, these are people untouched by the so called progress of the world, the leaps in technology and education, the politics and diplomacy. So then, when a broker tells the young Blessing that he can get her a job oversees so she can support her poor hard working mother and siblings, to her, the choice is simple. Of course she trusts him, that’s an innate human quality – you are taught to be wary, you are born to trust.
In a land where food and water is scarce, education cannot even be a topic of contention. Does that make it ok to exploit these simple minded humans? When did we start making such choices, rather why?
Dialogues exchanged between the reporter and smugglers, “Why can’t we live? What do you want us to do? How are we to eat?!”, provoke a thought to the origin of these people’e profession. When it comes to survival, you really end up having no choice. And yet somehow my heart goes to them, these people who are just trying to live, because isn’t that the most basic human right – of life?
This article belongs to the recent present, you see hints of the regular world, with the references to WhatsApp texts and automatic gates, that amaze these young girls, the same ones who have fought to see the light of the day – which in contrast is more amazing?
Here we are, most people of the world, sitting in the comforts of our homes, too busy with life and technology and social media, too busy to think about the other side, of people and places which very much exist in our very environment, that cannot, correction, should not be classified as belonging to the same planet, same age of humanity.
It is said we are living in a digital age, with options too many, choices a few many more. We make a choice every breathing moment, about how we live, work, eat, sleep, of people we like, dislike, or matters we deem important, or not. We make a choice to do good, or not. We make a choice to be good, or not. We make a choice to empathize, or not. We make a choice to be human, or not.
Yes we all have a choice. It’s time we stop acting like we have none. Because there are people out there, far too many, who really don’t, and yet they fight to survive, they hope to not only live, but live better, to not only believe in good despite all evidence pointing otherwise, but be good.
You don’t have to be ashamed of your privileges, nor guilty, but simply remember, that in each moment that you face a choice, be sure to make the worthy one – because you can, you have the privilege to.