La Voz de Galicia – January 20, 2023 →

Cristina PatoLife is full of contradictions, and even though one tries to understand the reasons that lead us to the most complex situations, the truth is that understanding them doesn’t make them any easier. This week, the United States celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a time remembering the leader’s heritage in his non-violent struggle in the Civil Rights Movement, and it goes hand in hand with the National Day of Service, encouraging society to volunteer because «being a citizen implies assuming an active role in the improvement of communities.» In this ephemeris, the theme selected by the Californian city where I find myself was a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr.: «Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’»

The fact is that this week was also the trial of, among others, Sarah Mardini, the Syrian swimmer and refugee, who became a heroine in 2015 to pull, along with her sister Yusra, a foundering vessel carrying 18 refugees (like themselves) on its way to the island of Lesbos. Mardini, who sought refuge in Germany, began to work as a volunteer in a Greek humanitarian maritime search-and-rescue organization in Lesbos; and it was there when, in 2018, was detained by Greek authorities to help those who were drowning in the sea for «human trafficking.»

The trial, identified as «the greatest case of the criminalization of solidarity in Europe» by the European Parliament, helps us see that the idea of service about which Martin Luther King Jr. spoke may be found in our individual selves, but not always in the collective self: in the institutions that deny rights as fundamental as the right to asylum, the right to life…

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