The quote is from Mahatma Ghandi. The photo is of my nephew Daniel and our friend *Fraser who came to Scotland as an asylum seeker escaping from Darfur in the Sudan. He is now a refugee, in other words, he's allowed to live and work in Scotland which was a great relief to everyone.
The quote came to mind when I dropped him off on Friday after our walk from Lunderston Bay to Inverkip (pictured). There was a big group of very loud kids hanging about outside his flats and I asked if he got much trouble.
He said to me "Anne, I have been in Scotland for 3 years and 4 months and I have NEVER had any problem with anybody. Every single person I have met has been nice to me." Made me really proud that. I know it's not true for everyone but I'm glad it is true in his case.
He went on to tell me that there are lots of "junkies" (not a term I use but his word) in his area and he'd never had any problems with them either. As he explained it "they are really suffering and I have suffered before so I know how hard life must be. They are taking drugs but they are not stupid, they know when people are looking down on them. I don't look down on them and they know that so they are always nice to me."
Here is someone who has been through hell in his life. I don't want to go into detail because although I've changed his name and not shown his face, I am sure he wouldn't want his private suffering to be public knowledge. The Ghandi quote should give you some idea.
Anyway he's been through hell and his faith in humanity must have been stretched to the limit but he has come out the other side still able to care for others, still with the mental capacity to show compassion for someone that many of us would indeed look down on. Maybe it's because this country has shown him some kindness. Either way he knows how fortunate he is to be here and I know how glad I am that we have people in our country who don't allow the barbarism shown to them to affect their capacity to love.
*Not his real name.