JOSEPH G. BOCK (University of Missouri), is director of the Ph.D. program in International Conflict Management at Kennesaw
State University. He also has served on the faculty of University of Notre Dame, the Middlebury Institute for International Studies at
Monterey, Eastern Mennonite University, Hebrew University, and William Jewell College. He has been a Fulbright Specialist in both Malta
and Greece. He has twelve years of international humanitarian experience with both Catholic Relief Services and American Refugee
Committee. His most recent book, The Technology of Nonviolence: Social Media and Violence Prevention, was published by MIT Press in 2012.
One of the mayor’s senior advisers
kept saying the most likely scenario is
that the refugees will leave Greece while
the migrants will stay. The migrants will
be, and were being, turned back at the
border with Macedonia. So, he argued
— and I agreed with him — that we
needed to design programs that will
help the migrants. The only refugees
likely to stay in Greece are older people
not seeking jobs, we pointed out.
The rest of the staff said they couldn’t
propose programs for migrants who
are in Greece illegally. They insisted
the focus be on refugees. They did not
warm up to the idea of pursuing a grant
for refugees (officially) that could also
benefit migrants (unofficially).
My ally, the senior adviser, looked
exasperated. And he looked sad. Then
he asked this haunting question: “But
what about the invisible people The
invisible people will be here. The longer
we ignore them, the worse the city’s
problems will be.”
Irregular migrants will struggle for
survival in Greece, unless they are
deported to Turkey under a European
Union-negotiated deal. But many of
them will operate on the margins for
years in the shadows of Athens —
washing windshields, picking through
trash, lying on cardboard in a city square,
desperately turning to prostitution.
Each of us has invisible people in
our midst — a disaffected worker,
a homeless veteran, a student
contemplating suicide, a child who
can’t figure out how to fit in, and, yes, a
migrant. Will we see them?
We are called to be determined,
filled with hope, like Abdul, and to be
compassionate and calm, like Elizabeth.
We are called to open our eyes and see
From left, top to bottom: Refugees and migrants are coming into Europe from all over the world, as evidenced by this multilingual sign directing them to temporarily camp on Lesvos;
Lesvos island, where the migrants and refugees were landing, right across from Turkey. Migrants and refugees typically leave their life jackets when they land. Some of the smugglers use
substandard lifejackets that actually soak up water; Graffiti on Lesvos; Inadequate shelters on Lesvos.
Refugee: (n) someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution,
war, or violence. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race,
religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Most
likely, he or she cannot return home or is afraid to do so. War and ethnic, tribal, and
religious violence are leading causes of refugees fleeing their countries.