Comment: Celebrate compassion as we welcome refugees

Syrian refugees arrive at Glasgow airport. Picture: Getty
Syrian refugees arrive at Glasgow airport. Picture: Getty
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Just over a year ago we were locked in the middle of the most enormous ­debate about what kind of nation we want to be.

Should we be a more ambitious country? More innovative and forward-looking? Do we want to build a fairer society? A more welcoming and tolerant one?

Whatever your view of the referendum result, it was hard not to be inspired by the passion and urgency of the debate before it. That debate was at times frustrating, and divisive, but ultimately it was uplifting to be thinking of just how great Scotland could be.

The values that we debated then have rarely been more relevant than they are today.

The first refugees from Syria have arrived in the Capital after fleeing the civil war in their home country.

Their arrival has been met with a rush of goodwill. The city council has been inundated with offers from people willing to do everything from opening the doors of their home to teaching the children of the arrivals the three Rs.

The response has not been so welcoming in all quarters. You don’t have to look far online, for instance, to find demands for us to close our borders, send them back where they came from and worse.

The kind of nation we are is decided not so much by any poll but by how we behave at moments such as this. That is the true test.

Are we going to celebrate the values of compassion for those who have arrived at our door with little more than the clothes they stand in?

Will we welcome with open arms those fleeing the kind of barbarism we saw on the streets of Paris last week? Or will we be the country where “charity begins at home” and turn our backs on them? The person who articulated this best was SNP Minister for Europe and International Development Humza Yousaf when he said yesterday was “a proud day for Scotland” as we opened our doors to those in need.