Reviewing the “travel security warning” for the world

by Emily Evans last modified 08 December 2015 11:18 AM
Reviewing the “travel security warning” for the world

#LoveMakesAWay march in Perth, Australia, 2015. © Louise Coghill

20 May 2015

Over the years, I have had the opportunity to travel widely (and freely). I’ve explored and experienced many different corners of the world and moved relatively freely between countries with my magic passport. But always before travelling I am advised to check the countries “security warning” to make sure that it is safe to travel there. If it is considered a level-four country, I cannot travel to it.

Recently I attended the first WCC ECHOS Commission meeting in Cairo, Egypt. Prior to going, I looked up the travel advice for Egypt, and it was a level three “Reconsider your need to travel”. This got me thinking, what are the factors distinguishing the levels? War, violence, terrorist threats, political tension? And how can these levels change? Justice and Peace.

During the ECHOS meeting we had an opportunity for sharing from the different regions of the world about the challenges and opportunities facing young people within their communities and regions.

There were a few key threads that ran through the presentations and it got me pondering, what are the challenges facing Australia and young people today? We live in a (relatively) peaceful country, a country that has not suffered great medical epidemics, civil war, terrorist threats, political tension or extreme poverty just to name a few examples. Does this sense of “relative peace” lead to inaction?

Currently in Australia, the public debate about asylum seekers is being played out in our commercial media, certain versions of the story are being told but others remain untold.

Desperate people are risking their lives to come to our shores by deadly means only to be greeted with a long wait in a “detention centre”, stripped of the basic human rights commonly resulting in high levels of mental illness or distress. We should believe, as followers of the refugee Jesus, that this situation is unacceptable, and that the time for us has come to boldly speak and act.

Young people have a responsibility to take action, to contribute in reshaping these debates, speaking out against injustice, rallying other young people on these issues and using their voice to bring about change.

Many young people today are involved in a campaign called #LoveMakesAWay, a movement of Christians seeking an end to Australia’s inhumane asylum seeker policies through prayer and non-violent love in action. #LoveMakesAWay organises events and actions, including civil disobedience, to publically witness to the injustices of Australia’s asylum seeker policies, and to a better way.

For me, on the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace we should be influenced by the actions and teachings of people like Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, and most importantly Jesus Christ:

“Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored… Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.” ("Letter from Birmingham Jail", by Martin Luther King Jr.)

From my perspective on the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace, young people (and everyone) should strive to be civil disobedience actors within their local context. Working towards creating a world of justice and peace where people do not need to check “security warnings” every time they travel!