I have read many comments of late regarding immigration and refuge in Australia,  and this has led me to remember a busking situation some years ago in South America (dreamy bubbles breezily float up from my head…)

One afternoon in Santiago, Chile I rode my bike across the city to a heavily trafficked intersection. In South America, traffic light intersections are occupied for all types of commercial ventures. With a captive audience, paused in a public space for up to 90 seconds, vendors are able to pass through the queues of vehicles offering all types of products.

At this particular traffic light there was a man selling bouquets of flowers, another man selling the newspaper and a blind man that begged. I tied my slack rope between a couple of posts and began performing, passing the hat amongst the stationed vehicles before the light turned green. After a few traffic lights the three of them asked me to leave… this intersection was “theirs!”.

Of course, we are talking about a public space, we all had the right to be in that space. However they had arrived “first”, they had been using the space “longer”. And I understood them, that intersection is their livelihood, and my presence changed that potential revenue.

I could have gone to another intersection, they could have gone to another intersection too, but we all wanted to be at this intersection, because all of our personal experiences had proven that this particular intersection paid. Cha Ching!

When the blind man began swinging his baton in my vicinity and the newspaper salesman began burning my rope with a lighter, I chose to leave.

Some street vendors (like some early settlers) appropriate public spaces, and because they believe that they arrived first, or that they spend more time there, that the space is theirs… but really its just a piece of land that belongs to everybody.

The human species, when it gets hungry, seeks food. And when a person’s possibility to this basic need is threatened, it produces fear, and when money is responsible for whether a person can access food and shelter, we begin seeing conflicts all over the world.

There are many more complex arguments regarding immigration and refuge, however I often feel that it comes down to this very basic fear of change.