Last weekend I ended up having a few drinks with a pretty amazing individual. Sergeant first class Jeremy Johnson is a US Army veteran who took the brunt of a 305lb explosion to his lower back and subsequently spent 7 months in hospital before learning to walk again. Political leanings, thoughts and philosophy aside — anyone with the spirit and strength of character to endure being blown up and essentially put back together is worthy of a modicum of anyone's respect.
It doesn't hurt that he was a pretty decent chap and bought a few rounds either.
Now, I'm not typing this up just to say I met this man, or to sing any particular praises of his. I'm actually writing this because of something he said, and a lot he didn't. Naturally, this something was unavoidably political.
The conversation swung towards the plight of the Syrian refugees and their seeking of asylum. We agreed that it was shame long before that terrible event that became the pivotal point of changing opinion and the front page of every paper for a week. He then, however, went on to suggest that the overwhelming majority of asylum-seeking refugees were "military aged males".
There was no conspiratorial reasoning offered for why he found this worth mentioning, just that it was worth mentioning. Sergeant Johnson is a travelled man, with a pervasive respect for people at large, but a lesser mind may have continued on to suggest some grand scheme afoot; the Islam-ification of the west, sleeper agents, or something equally bullshit. Instead, we talked about it, reasoned out that if it were indeed the case, then it seems reasonable that the most mobile demographic of the fleeing citizens, those with the least to hold on to and the physical endurance to live and travel rough as needed, are young men — or as he put it, military aged males.
We seen sense in this, found the hypothetical case for such a potential statistic to be mildly interesting and proceeded to sink another tall glass of rum.
Nothing too exciting there, and thankfully so, but I can't help but think that for every one Sergeant Johnson, willing to reason out what I would call "the push and pull" of a scenario, there's a dozen who take it at face value and plug that directly into their own belief template, be it those ridiculous notions mentioned above or something even more insidiously narrow.
I hope I'm wrong — as it's the consideration of those types that forms a wet cloth of despair on a mind already prone to melancholy — but someone's buying the Daily Mail and it isn't me.
Well met, Sergeant Johnson, and may you stay safe on your travels across the rest of Europe.