First, there were fires. Houses torched by a small group of angry ones, those who would rather let the flames take vacant buildings than see them inhabited by the outsiders. Others were less direct, they chose instead to spread lies, use deception to try and scare away refugees before they had even arrived. It didn’t work, more came, a stream of people seeking a new home, here in the cold North.
The Outsiders were people. Good and bad both, as humans tend to be. There were innocents seeking peace after years of abuse, war and poverty. There were some who wanted to change, to embrace the ways of their new country. There were some who came to rebuild what they had lost, only here. And there were some who brought with them the strife and pain people over there had fled from in the first place.
As more came, the northerners suddenly faced a difficult situation. They were representatives of the free West, defenders of democracy, protectors of human rights, was it not so? How could they turn their backs on those who were fleeing from war and death? This was the hour when the Northerners could show some backbone and stand up for what was right, stand up for those who were weak and in need of help. And so kind ones, good ones, brave ones, stood up for the Outsiders and spoke out against those who would not.
It didn’t come without a cost. If you bring strangers into your home they will need space, they will need food, they will need a place by the table like all others. But the house remains as big as it was before, and sacrifices need be made by the locals to make it work. Suddenly reality struck. There is a limit to how many can be helped. Where is that limit? Had they passed it already? Hesitation and worry spread. Fear came creeping.
Then came a blow that would change everything. Those Outsiders who were not innocent, were not kind or weak, brought chaos. Come New Years, the North looked on in shock and terror as groups of Outsiders struck out against innocents, harassed and raped, robbed and abused.
And those who had torched houses and spread lies, they suddenly needed no lies. They could point at the vicious ones, those who abused their would-be helpers, and say LOOK! WE WERE RIGHT!
Soon streets were flooded by masked men, angry men, defenders of the homeland. And suddenly no Outsider could feel truly safe, not even those who had done no wrong. They became the enemy, they became invaders, not refugees, regardless.
It was only a matter of time before the first deaths occurred. And there, the North split. There were good men and women standing up for their homeland and their people, standing up against rape and violence, who armed themselves and went to attack against those they thought would bring only chaos. And against them, other good men and women standing up for the outsiders. These were people who still carried their heads high and would not deem the life of an outsider as any less valuable than their own, who would fight for an innocent Outsider even if it meant going against their own. And those who had fled, had come seeking peace and safety, would of course not stand being attacked either. They hadn’t done anything wrong, they thought, and so they did whatever they could to defend themselves. They were no strangers to war, that was the past they had fled from after all, so easy it was to pick up arms yet again.
And so it came to violence, not far away, but here in the North. Both sides had a core of good, the nationalists fighting for the safety of their people, and the multi-culturalists fighting for the safety of all, and for the very idea of justice beyond national borders. Both sides also had a vicious side, as people who relish violence gravitated towards either extreme. Soon neither faction was without blame. Nationalists attacked innocents on the street, vandalized places of worship, lashed out against anyone who would offer a safe harbour to Outsiders. Multi-culturalist lashed out in return, struck traditionalists at their homes, brought terror to those who feared the Outside. Innocents on both sides suffered and their pain fueled the conflict. There were shootings, there were bombings, there were deaths.
It wasn’t even Us against Them. It was Us against Us, and Them caught in the middle, in a meaningless spiral of violence. The time of a peaceful North had ended. War had come and there was no going back.
Please, please do not let it get this far. We are close, dangerously close. Pray it’s not already too late.