I assume most people accept that nobody makes the move from their homeland to a new land lightly.
I remember in the 1980s looking at battles in Beirut and other places on the news and thinking "Why the hell would you stay there when there's all that fighting and killing going on? Surely just leaving would be a smarter idea."
Imagine trying to bring up a family in a place like that. Just ridiculous.
So I rolled my eyes and thought that these people were silly...stupid even.
Then I learnt about patriotism. Sure, it was mainly from American television, and they did seem to be somewhat over the top, but it was something I'd never really thought about.
So people have a connection to their homeland...irrespective of how terrible it is. Right, got it.
Some people have a connection to their people AND their homeland. I see, I get that.
But I'm not sure I did, because I've never lived in a country or time when my home or people were under threat. I've sort of taken these things for granted.
Yet some of these people did decide to leave their homelands.
We certainly had quite a few refugees from Cambodians or Vietnamese in my school, but I never really thought about why they were there...they just were. Nice guys and girls who joined our school and did the same thing as the rest of us.
Fast forward 20-25 years and the news is filled with stories of 'boat people' heading our way, however, instead of south-east asia, these people are coming from further afield in western asia; Sri Lanka, Iraq, Afghanistan - There's no secret that they are less than ideal places to live.
My thoughts again were, why the hell would you want to live there anyway - but this time I was equipped with my understanding of patriotism, and this I think tells you something about the people who are on these boats.
They're desperate. At the end of their tether, they've found an opportunity to survive and they've grabbed it.
But why Australia? There are plenty of countries between Iraq and Australia or between Afghanistan and Australia or Sri Lanka and Australia, and after all, they're getting to Indonesia and then heading over here.
Pakistan (who hid Osama bin laden),
India (pretty strict class system, guess who's at the bottom),
Bangladesh (floods on a regular basis),
Myanmar/Burma (run by a Govt who until recently had the winner of the 1990 election imprisoned in her own home),
Thailand (they were shooting Government protestors in 2010 from memory),
Malaysia (Not a bad place, but reasonably corrupt and citizenship isn't granted to people who are born there!),
Indonesia (I've been there, it ain't that flash, plus it's a home for quite a few terrorists),
And then we have Australia.
Yeah, pretty difficult to comprehend why they aren't stopping along the way.