This Friday Juana Pérez Montero, Pressenza editor and reporter, presented the following communication with the title “Immigration in the media from a perspective of peace and nonviolence”. It was presented during the VII International Congress on Immigration, Interculturality and Coexistence which took place in the autonomous city of Ceuta.
Before we start, we would like to make clear that we will not be speaking as “objective” journalists, as we do not believe that such a thing exists. We know that this idea of objectivity that they teach us at journalism school does not exist – and not just because we might have to work with our employer’s best interests in mind, but because we ourselves are subjects. Everything that we do, say, write, etc. will always be subjective; it will be the product of a particular viewpoint conditioned by our beliefs, our values, our circumstances… and even by our own bodies.
We would also like to make clear that, in our view, humans are a historical and intentional being, and so able to effect change in their bodies, their internal landscape and the human landscape in which we live.
Moving on to the topic at hand, we would say that the word “immigration”, with the prefix “im”, implies a particular point of view. It implies an “inside” and, by extension, an “outside”. It places a condition on us: to talk about the “inside” as we see and experience it from within.
But perhaps what we need is to broaden our view. Maybe we need to take into account the “outside” in order to have a better understanding of the “inside”, and to look for solutions that are positive and offer a future to us all. That is, if what we are looking for is to give coherent and definitive solutions.
We see no other way to deal with the issue in a globalised world; a world where borders only exist for people, especially poor people – although every day more areas of society are affected by a border policy supported by growing fear, irrationality and dehumanisation.
The role of the media in the migratory phenomenon
In reality, it plays the same role as it does in any other subject. It is at the same time a reflection of the human landscape in which the media works, and agents who contribute towards the creation of what we call the “collective imagination” with the construction of people’s internal landscapes and the human landscape. It is essential that we recognise and take responsibility for this.
The media continues to create opinions, to build an image of “the immigrant” – an image which today is generally negative, stigmatising and even criminalising. It creates division. It encourages further resentment and a thirst for revenge among “insiders” and “outsiders”.
We have reached a point in which we blame immigrants for all of our problems, while diverting the attention from those actually responsible for the disaster in which we live. What an illusion our so-called reality is!
We conclude by stating that the media’s role in the creation of the collective imagination means that they have an enormous responsibility with regards to the opinions that they hold on various issues; this is especially true of their views on migrants at this time.
Perspectives on migration
And these opinions correspond to what we call “particular perspectives”. And what perspectives do we see? There are basically, in our opinion, two types of perspective which correspond to the values underpinning every media outlet.
A lot of media organisations, particularly the larger ones, have a dehumanising perspective – a perspective that we will call “objectifying”; a view which sees migrants as being, more or less, useful objects which are as disposable as any other consumer item. It is a perspective of the system in which we live, where money is king and where millions of people are out of work with more following them every day as technology advances. Millions of people simply left over on the “inside” and “outside”!
It is a perspective that speaks to a disconnect with the human side of the person talking or writing; and the human side of what they talk about; a perspective lacking in compassion, that denies a present or a future to others, and serves only to perpetuate this inhumane system.
But there is another perspective – the adoption of which has become a matter of urgency. It is a perspective which puts human beings as the central value; a perspective which values above all the lives and freedom of each and every human being. It uncovers and condemns violence in all its forms: economic violence (the mother of all other violence), physical violence (the greatest example being wars), racial violence, religious violence, gender violence, generational, moral and psychological violence. It is a perspective that does not tolerate violence in any form – not even legal violence – as violence is always illegal and immoral.
And this perspective – which we call peace and nonviolence – leads us to uncover and condemn the true causes of the current migratory phenomenon. These include:
- The policies adopted by the northern countries – servants of the world’s largest economic interests.
- The invasions of third countries by NATO and its armies in defence of these interests.
- The sale of weapons to certain groups, leading to war, when they are not given the resources by certain rulers.
- The seizure of these countries’ resources. Some are even brazen enough to declare incredibly wealthy nations as being “countries without hope of development”.
- Food policies and the interests of this sector’s largest industries, which are giving rise to climate change and famine.
- The misery and death, the pain and suffering that all of this causes in millions of human beings.
- The way of life exported by what we call the “north” of the planet which only represents a minority.
- The demonization and criminalisation of other beliefs, values and myths that are not their own.
- The zealous defence of individualism, which leads to a lack of solidarity with others and condemns millions of people on the “inside” to loneliness.
- The unfortunate “role” of the Mediterranean Sea as a cemetery for the dead who will never be buried.
- Forgetting our recent, and even current, history of forced migrations, etc.
This perspective of peace and nonviolence, above all else involves focusing on the positive, on encouraging life, on anything that either builds or imagines another world built around people.
This leads us to initiatives, which:
- Value and treat every immigrant as a human being, whose life and freedom are sacred.
- Demand equal rights and opportunities for all.
- Continue to proclaim that “no human being is illegal”, demanding the closure of all immigration detention centres etc.
- Discuss the right to migrate and the benefits of migration.
- Dare to propose the elimination of borders.
- Support the immediate withdrawal of armies in occupied territories (Palestine, Syria, Yemen…)
- Fight for the inclusion of a clause in national constitutions renouncing warfare as a means of solving conflicts with other countries (as Bolivia has done).
- Discuss growing wealth as a result of technological advancement. This wealth, of course, belongs to everyone.
- And that if all of this wealth, tangible or intangible, were to be distributed fairly, it would afford a dignified life for all of humanity and to demand such a redistribution.
- Educate us on our similarities, and not our differences.
- In summary, everything relating to universal human rights (including those known as emerging or fourth generation human rights).
We will accomplish this by reporting on projects of all sizes, be they small scale, even personal – but deeply inspiring and significant – or projects active across the globe or with very ambitious aims; stories and ideas about another world that could be. With this, we can contribute to the creation of a new collective imagination, a new paradigm that puts people first and advocates the creation of one universal human nation.
We are at a crossroads
At this exciting moment, which we can define as a critical crossroads, we are debating as humanity, as peoples, as individuals, between letting ourselves be carried away by fear; by resentment for what we have experienced or heard and incorporated as our own; by revenge (the basis of the culture in which we live), or by opting for a new path: For a culture of dialogue, of understanding the phenomenon at its root, seeking personal and social reconciliation and demanding “to treat others they way we would like to be treated,” an essential moral principle if we truly want to build a coexistence based on interculturality.
At this crossroads – standing between looming disaster in an ever more violent and inhumane world, and the possibility of a new world based on peace and nonviolence – each of us will be choosing … and our actions will speak volumes.
Pressenza is a collection of volunteer reporters – volunteers to avoid depending on outside interests – that has followed this second path since our founding. It is perhaps more accurate to say that we have found the need to create such a media organisation precisely because of our having chosen to follow this second path. Ours is an organisation that aims to serve the people, the grassroots, and the construction of a new paradigm worthy of humanity.
Translated by Mark Wood, from the original Spanish, and proofread by Kay Walden from www.trommons.org