Over the last few years, our immigration and refugee policies have been gettin stricter. Our political lanscape is slipping to the right when it comes to these matters and the influx of African refugeees into Europe has made the acceptance of refugees even worse than it has been. To me, it's shameful. I believe everyone is entitled to aid and safety, especially if they are risking life and limb to escape the atrocities of their homeland. We have plenty, we can share. And if we give these refugees the tools and opportunities to fit in, they can become some of our most valued citizens. That's how it was in ancient Athens, after all!
Ancient Hellenic society was notoriously strict about who was part of it and who was not. If you were not a citizen, you were either a doûlos--slave--or a métoikos, more commonly referred to as 'metic'. All three classes had their parts to play in Classical Hellas. In Athens, about half of the population were doûlos and métoikos. Métoikos were citizens of other Hellenic cities and beyond who came to Athens because of the unique opportunities the metropolis offered. Doûlos who bought their freedom also became métoikos. Because of their skill sets, métoikos were welcomed with open arms in Athens, but they very rarely became neutralized citizens; the best they could hope for was to become an isoteleia. As an isoteleia, they were freed from the liabilities the métoikos had. Former slaves never received either status; isoteleia or citizen.
Many famous contributors to Athenian culture and Hellenic history--like the philosopher Aristotle and the painter Polygnotos--were not Athenian citizens. Many builders of temples, as well as some of the richest businessmen and women weren't Athenian citizens. Egyptians, Cypriots and Phoenicians, all came to Athens and founded their own districts, with temples in which they could pray to their own Gods. It were the doûlos who were entrusted with the money trade, and all métoikos were welcomed to become doctors, teachers, or any other very important profession.
I want these ideas to become more prevalent again. Not as slaves or lesser inhabitants, but to give these people who are looking for safety and opportunities the chance to truly add to the country they journey to in their desperation. They want to, we need them to, and sadly we do not give them the opportunity. These two children--18 and 13--now have a chance to fullfil their potential. The eldest has already secured a scholarship for university and her brother is doing very well in school as well. They will be wonderful additions to our workorce one day and we would have been without them if the governement had, indeed, deported them. We still have a lot to learn from ancient Hellas, I fear, but at least common sense and kindness has prevailed in this case!