Friday, September 01, 2006


I'm not too sure what to think. I keep hearing both sides of the immigration argument. It seems to me that there are advantages and disadvantages on every side and that what it actually boils down to is that I want my own country to be just as I would like. I wonder if I am being selfish?

I can trace my own origins in England back to the year 1066, when the de Percey family came across from Normandy with William the Conqueror, and back into Normandy until 865. But, when I think about it, what do I actually want? Well, I want to retain my history and my culture…but then nobody is stopping me enjoying my history. It's all there for me, and as for my culture, isn't that something I can celebrate even whilst I live in Rome and enjoy a different one?

People have been pretty mobile throughout history. Rome has been accepting individuals from every corner of the earth for millennia. This has given it a unique flavour, but there's nobody saying that Rome is not Italian, even with the multinational population of today. Tell an Italian that Rome is not truly Italy and there will be a torrent of gesticulations and words, at the end of which, shoulders will be shrugged and nothing else will happen anyway.

I've been an immigrant in Italy, Australia, Nigeria and Zambia, but somehow that's a bit different. Aren't immigrants 'other people'? I've expected to be welcome as I've moved around. I've expected courtesy and the wherewithal to get on with my life in peace and freedom. I think I've contributed something positive in each of the countries in which I've lived, but I also expect that, one day, I'll probably go back home and spend the rest of my life in England, thoroughly enriched by all that I've seen and enjoyed elsewhere. Isn't that exactly what other immigrants do? I don't think I've been expecting specialised treatment and freebies. I've expected to work. I've expected to make adjustments to my new surroundings. I've made efforts to learn other languages even if I've not necessarily been successful…

I don't know what the answers are to the questions of immigration that I keep hearing. I do know that I can stand in St. Peter's Square and don't need a visa. I can be there because I have a right to be there, simply by being human.

It seems to me that everything boils down to a question of the rights that God gave us. Everyone has a right to a home, to food, clothing, education, health care, but with rights, there are also duties. If the world's resources were to be evenly distributed, would people pour out of one country in order to go to another? Wouldn't it be far more convenient to stay at home?

Whilst I was on holiday, I visited the museums in Liverpool and was captivated by the family group in the photo alongside this reflection. They represent a family who left England, hoping for a better life elsewhere. Isn't that something that has always happened? What would life be like if we were all to have and enjoy all that we needed for a secure, happy life for ourselves and our families? Would we be immigrants or would we simply feel that we had come home?

God bless,
Sr. Janet