This photo is worth a thousand words, and they're all wrong.

Over the last few days I've seen this image of Syrian refugees charging their mobile phones pop up more and more across Facebook, accompanied by comments about how these people clearly don't really need our help at all.

The point being, it would appear, that owning a mobile phone automatically eliminates all the other problems you might face in life. I'm the proud owner of a slightly battered iPhone 5s and I can assure you this hasn't been my experience. 

It's obviously ridiculous to suggest that owning a $200 mobile phone means you are immune to the ravages of war, but that fact this image has been shared so widely points to a depth of the misunderstanding of what we're dealing with. 

There are people who can commentate much more eloquently than me on the causes of the refugee crisis, but it struck me that the frame of whatever debate we do have is solely economic, and that says a lot about us and the worldview we bring to the table. 

It seems that for many people the only plausible explanation is that these thousands of people are so poor, hopeless and generally damned that they're willing to take the enormous risks requires to cross our borders and get a slice of the rich, western, middle-class McLife that we all enjoy.  The fact that they have a mobile phone therefore automatically illegitimises any claim they have for our help. 

We've had this view reinforced to the point of exhaustion with the media insisting on using the word 'migrant' rather than 'refugee', and of course in our culture money is much more likely to be a source of distress than a shell landing in our back garden. So the perspective is understandable, but it's also wrongheaded.

This has all left us unable to do anything except frame everyone else's behavior as we frame our own - driven by economics and the quest for a more fulfilling (i.e. wealthier) existence. It's the only way to explain a behaviour that assumes because someone can own a $200 mobile phone they can't legitimately be facing any really serious problems, can they?