The other side of Wonderland

US Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump proposes a wall along the US-Mexico border, funded by Mexico, to keep illegal immigrants out of the US.

Greece is uneasy about the recent flood of refugees from the civil unrest happening in neighbouring Macedonia.

Syrian and Iraqi borders are porous and leaking escapees from the ISIS caliphate conquest and Syrian civil war, causing fragile service infrastructures to be on the verge of collapse.

Switzerland’s government and many of the Swiss themselves are unsettled about refugees and foreigners, feeling they threaten the very Alpine air, pure Swiss values and culture, and are a burden upon the economy.

As I read the recent headlines, I am reminded of two movies – one recent and one some time ago – where peoples who are traditionally anti-immigration and xenophobic in nature find themselves in the unexpected role of being refugees themselves.

2004’s The Day After Tomorrow , starring Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhaal, suddenly plunges the US into a climatic disaster.

In the aftermath of flooding, hailstones, hurricanes and an endless Ice Age, American refugees struggle across the Mexican border seeking a better environment for themselves and their children.

This month’s Locarno Film Festival has amongst its contenders, the Swiss film Wonderland.

Switzerland has declared a state of emergency.

A mysterious cloud has appeared out of nowhere and is looming over the country.

It is only a question of time before a hurricane of Biblical devastation breaks out, with catastrophic consequences.

A natural catastrophe?

The great black blot stops at the borders.

Only Switzerland is affected – or rather, punished.

The cloud threatening Swiss security and peace does not come from abroad, but from deepest and most conservative Switzerland.

Switzerland suddenly finds itself on the other side of the barricades as those Swiss who choose to leave their homes seek refuge in a neigbouring country.

The European Union, faced with an exodus of more than a million Swiss, decides to close its borders.

In 2014, 50.3% of Swiss voters accepted the reintroduction of curbs and quotas on immigration.

Switzerland is a country that is increasingly isolated on the European scene and increasingly distrustful of anything different – immigrants above all.

A recent poll, reported upon in 20 Minuten , as well as other media sources, shows that Switzerland is increasingly unpopular amongst ex-pats who view Switzerland as “unfriendly and expensive”.

Wonderland was born of a desire of introspection and reflection on what we Swiss are experiencing…we are part of the problem.

We have lost the ability to forge ties with our neighbours.

By isolating ourselves, by seeing ourselves as a model country and by denying the existence of a problem, we are heading for a collision.”

(Jan Gassmann / Lionel Rapp, Wonderland directors)

Sealing off your homeland is not the solution.

Economically, no land is an island, as most countries cannot survive without trade and commerce beyond national boundaries.

And it is the immigrants who tend to do the jobs the locals will not or cannot do themselves.

Culturally, a land without immigrants is a dry desert void bereft of new ideas and imagination.

We tend to forget that whilst we barricade ourselves from those we don’t understand so thus fear, we also barricade ourselves in with those whose xenophobic right-wing attitudes do us the most harm.

Walls work in both directions.


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