On of the most inhumane conditions to leave somebody in is extreme coldness. When a person is extremely cold, their body begins to shut down, and their mind goes blank. This blankness can shut down desire, love, pain, or anything which is not directly concerned with basic preservation – anything which is not the continuing beating of the heart and the continuing functioning of other vital organs. We all know that being cold creates a situation in which the only thing a person can truly think about is how cold they are. It endangers people into making decisions they wouldn’t make if they were warm — accepting situations which they might not otherwise accept, in order to preserve their life.
When I am cold, I find it very difficult to pray because my body is so tense.
It is difficult to feel open and receptive to the universe when one’s body is contracting in an attempt to stave off the inescapable physical anguish of the freezing cold. That is why soaking somebody and putting them in a fridge or freezer is often used as a method of torture by regimes and governments.
When I am emotionally upset, I cover myself with blankets and the duvet. It is a natural human response to want to be surrounded in warmth when bad things have happened.
Often, refugees have fled situations of extreme violence and war. Many are traumatised and need a lot of good, long duvet days, to say the least. Instead, they are left out in the cold, desperate, and re-traumatised by the slow torture of freezing in a country which could provide for them, but instead chooses to steal their sleeping bags, destroy their tents, and tear-gas them.
I cannot bear to think of how many people in Calais in the last few days, in sub-zero temperatures, have either died from the cold, gotten illness which will cause them to die eventually, have gone to desperate measures to stay warm, have had their trauma deepened, or have lost hope. When so many people care and are sending sleeping bags, clothes and tents, but they are stolen by the police, it is especially cruel. Stopping one group of people from experiencing the literal and emotional warmth which comes from receiving nurture from another group is to deny both sets of people their humanity and to impose an extra layer of coldness on those who are endangered.
We must cry out, repeatedly, until the powers of this world are so tortured by our cry that they can no longer continue. It is already getting too late in the day. The sun is down. The wind is biting. We must feel the moral chill in the air and set our souls ablaze for justice.