What will future generations think of us? How will they judge our actions? What will children learn in history class about how our generation dealt with current challenges?

This article is what our journalist Sonja Wiencke thinks a school book for history will look like 80 years from now.

Chapter I

People say history repeats itself. This book will describe some of the parts of history that shall never be repeated, hoping that this will be the last time a history book has to make that attempt.

(…)

Chapter II

The beginnings of inequalities:

How “Race”, “Gender”, “Ethnicity” and “Religion” (among others) became categories people invented to suppress each other

(…)

Chapter III

The Age of Colonialism

(…)

Chapter IV

The First World War, the Second World War and the Holocaust

(…)

Chapter V

A Global System for Peace and Equality

Case Study – How the European Union Failed Human Rights

The EU was founded on the values of peace, human rights, democracy, rule of law and social justice.

The aim was to prevent a disaster such as the Second World War with millions of dead, injured and displaced people from happening again.

In the early 21st century, wars in the Middle East in which the EU’s member states played their role, forced several million people out of their homes and out of their countries.

Years followed in which thousands of them tried to get into the EU as what international law called “refugees”. Refugees are all people who cannot get protection of their basic rights from the state they lived in and are therefore entitled to protection from another state.

Many people in the EU did not want them to get there, though. They were worried that the newcomers would take away their jobs, social benefits, as well as their identity and security.

Refugees rescued off the coast of Malta by Official U.S. Navy Page - Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Refugees rescued off the coast of Malta by Official U.S. Navy Page – Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Since taking a regular cheap flight was prohibited to asylum-seekers (historians are as yet unsure why, since the invention of humanitarian visas was already on the table), thousands died on their way there.

They died on their way through the desert or on boats in the Mediterranean. A humanitarian disaster occurred when people took the route through the Balkans and countries started shutting borders. Idomeni is a town that is only famous for how 13,000 people were stranded there, left to freeze in tents in the mud without medical care, food or sanitation.

Power politics

State leaders responded with policies designed to deter people from coming. That involved a lot of teargas, violence, and neglect in camps with horrible living conditions.

They also struck deals with the neighbouring countries, exchanging migrants for migrants for money, thereby forgetting all about human rights, humanitarian law and their commitment to non-discrimination.

Since this is a history book in a more enlightened age, it will not only mention the failures of the elites in power, but the successes and grandeur of those on the ground: many lives were saved and suffering limited by hundreds of volunteers who provided humanitarian support at all points of the refugee route.

However, those who shouted loudest ended up being those who marched under banners like “Refugees Not Welcome” to declare that only people with the right passport had the right to live in a peaceful country.

That was how Europeans committed yet another genocide, systematically and intentionally eradicating a population based on them being seen as “the other”.

That was how the international institutional system and international law broke down: Human rights had been violated in many places ever since they were codified. But now that the EU, founded to protect human dignity and prevent harm to be done to people by people, was ignoring human rights, no one considered them as valid any more.

There would have been other ways in which the EU could have handled the crisis. But because all of the public debates and negotiations on solutions were thought about as “us against them” (Europeans against migrants, conservatives against liberalists, …) and based on power politics, these were not implemented.

It is impossible to count the people who died and suffered as a result.

It is hardly possible to tell whose fault it was: a small minority was actively aggressive towards those seeking protection in Europe. A large majority stood by and did nothing. Politicians were only able to implement policies shutting off their borders because they believed these policies were supported by the majority.

Chapter VI

You are lucky to be here, created in a lab from surrogates like your peers around you, as a perfect human being that will not make these mistakes again. You all were engineered and conditioned to be exactly the same so that no one could invent categories like “Race” or “Nationality” to oppress each other.

This part of history must not be repeated.

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Sonja Wiencke

Sonja Wiencke

Sonja is currently studying at the University of Oxford for an MSc in Global Governance and Diplomacy, having graduated from a BA in European Studies in Passau, Germany. Her passions include human rights, environmental issues, hidden -isms in society, and improvised theatre. Sonja's dream is to work for the UN or the EEAS.