The Human Condition: Exemplified in Refugees and Asylum Seekers

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“The human condition” refers to the inherent characteristics, external events, and day-to-day situations that essentially compose our existence. Core examples include growth, freedom, conflict, and mortality. This topic of the human condition was covered extensively in my English class; to grasp it, we turned to several pieces of literature. Using literature as an attempt to understand the human condition, however, is finite as I later realized. To apply the human condition to what we know as our existence and that of those around us, should we not be turning to real-life events, struggles, and spontaneous hope? Something that combines the aforementioned trinity and sprouts to mind in an instant is the current refugee crisis that is still transpiring on a global scale.

There are many perspectives on this unceasing crisis, and a compelling one is that the people seeking refuge cannot be held accountable as the problem. Instead, the source of the problem can be traced back to the way that those in authority choose to deal with the events going on in their homeland, or if they even do anything at all. While resolving political issues is important, building empathy for the millions of refugees and understanding the sacrifices they make along their journey in order to reach a final destination with ample comfort, necessities, and opportunities, is arguably of more significance.

Statistics collected from the UN Refugee Agency revealed that by the end of 2018, “70.8 million individuals were forcibly displaced worldwide as a result of persecution, conflict, violence, or human rights violations”. Although the refugee crisis has dominated 21st-century media and continues to, years of viewing overcrowded camps and similar inhumane conditions inflicted upon the refugees equally results in apathy as it does in trying to convey a call to the agency. The statistic may not yet register as unnerving, so I’ll equate it to something that you might find a bit more relevant. Selecting every 1 in 5 people from the population of the United States over the course of just one year and extraditing them to an unfamiliar country would equate to the amount of refugees that were forcibly displaced due to relatively avoidable circumstances. This would mean that if you have any relatives or friends in the United States, there would definitely be a high chance of them hypothetically being affected. 

Earlier this month on the British Broadcasting Corporation, one particular story captured my attention and bewildered sympathy. It described the death of a Kenyan man as a result of falling from the undercarriage/wing compartment of a plane he secretly boarded that was traveling from Kenya to London, a journey that officials say was almost 7000km. More horrifying details include that he was frozen in an ice block (due to the lack of air pressurization in the undercarriage where he was stowing away), traces of other people taking the journey with him, and the fact that when he fell, he landed next to an unsuspecting and later traumatized London citizen. The story epitomizes the kinds of news you would never expect to hear due to it being something you would not have the imagination to fabricate. As of now, I cannot corroborate details since the story has not been updated since the third of July, but it seems that they have not yet identified him or his true motivation. Nevertheless, it graphically highlighted the lengths people go to, and the risks they are willing to take, in order to migrate – once again reinforcing the human condition and compelling me to write this article.
This issue is largely relevant to our youth society in that it is undermined not only in magnitude, but also on how good of a reflection it is on our gratitude and status as globally-minded citizens, something many schools enhance. Whether or not the refugee crisis affects you directly, learning to view it from different perspectives and being able to see it is as an exemplification of the human condition will at the very least, tell you a lot about our world. A guidance counselor at one of my old schools read one article of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights during assembly each week for several months to reinforce our rights and get us thinking critically of what those less fortunate were lacking. It was disappointing to see that hardly anyone could appreciate her initiative, but I definitely did. Reading through it again now and thinking of the human condition reminds me that it is what refugees exemplified and continue to exemplify as they fight to reach that final destination.

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