SO how long will it be this time before compassion fatigue kicks in? How long until the initial, emotional intensity of our response to the picture of a dead toddler washed up on a Turkish beach simmers down again to be replaced by all the same old fears and suspicions? Perhaps our aid agencies should each retain the services of a good freelance photographer ready to fly to the world’s next black hole of human misery and snap the image that will jog our consciences for another few weeks. Hundreds of other little Alan Kurdis have died on the seas between Europe and Africa; presumably though, the light in a ship’s hold full of rotting humans and their waste would not be suitable for a decent photograph.

I’ll ask again: how far will this year’s compassion go and how long will it last? Will it come with qualifications attached? Having volunteered – like many others, it seems – to take in a refugee family, just how prepared am I? If the phone call from a local relief organisation comes and I am confronted with the immediate reality of sharing my home with some urchins from another world, will my compassion evaporate and my tears dry quickly? And if I take a deep breath and mutter to myself, “okaaaay, let’s just see how this goes”, how long will I be able to share my house with these frightened strangers as we circle each other and stumble to communicate?

How far am I willing to get to know them or to say to them: “My place is yours for as long as you need it?” Am I willing to put my hands in my own pockets to buy treats for their children, or give up some time to drive them around my beloved country and to share with them my own gift of freedom? When God gave us Scotland did He intend us just to keep it for ourselves?

What do I really think about the prospect of them settling here and looking for an education and a job and taking up valuable waiting time for the ailments, physical and mental, that must have accompanied them on their long road to freedom? Will I take them to the job centre, drive them to their interview, enrol them, if needs be, in English language lessons? What if my daughter falls in love with one of them? It’s easy to be liberal and enlightened and Christian and compassionate when you live a soft existence in which a bank standing order can make you feel good about yourself and maintain a comfortable distance between you and your chosen cause. “I mean, bloody hell, we’re not actually meant to meet the poor sods. Isn’t that what we pay Sciaf and Oxfam for?” Will I turn out to be just another chocolate liberal who can always talk (or write) a good game?

So let’s you and I talk about refugees and the extent to which we are willing to challenge the pernicious myths and falsehoods that lie at the heart of Tory doctrine about their fellow human beings. It’s all well and good giving David Cameron a kicking over his dilatory approach to helping out his fellow human beings, but he’s just doing what comes naturally. What we saw him espouse last week was the traditional right-wing and capitalist ideology of “Survival of the Fittest”; the bestial philosophy that reduces humans to animals and divests us of all responsibility to help our stricken brothers and sisters and to share our resources with them.

I must declare an interest here. I am a trustee of the Bridges Programmes, an organisation based in Glasgow that helps migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers build a better life and contribute their gifts and abilities to Scotland through work and culture. My experience is that employers who take on these people are enriched in so many ways. The majority of them achieve a standard of quality in their work, underpinned by pristine attendance records, that makes them invaluable to the business and to the Scottish economy. They are not a drain on the NHS as they are rarely sick and they make tax and National Insurance contributions. They lighten up the workspaces that they occupy and they remind us just how good even the most distressed of us have had it in our gilded existences.

Scotland has been blessed by having successive governments, ever since devolution, that possess a heart for opening our doors to those fleeing persecution. They have withstood the lies of the UK Right and its obscene and untruthful narrative of suspicion, jealousy and downright hatred of those fleeing injustice and torture. This country has a wonderful reputation throughout Europe for the manner in which we manage integration for the mutual benefit of the country and those who want to make a home here. The Syrian crisis, though, requires us to step up to the mark once more.

Nicola Sturgeon has pledged to take 1,000 refugees, but Scotland can easily take more than that.

Previously Glasgow, under the provisions of a deal with the UK Government, has taken on Scotland’s burden of housing refugees and asylum-seekers almost single-handedly. Now it’s time for Edinburgh, a city which now seems solely to exist for the gratification of the perpetual international travel set, to throw open its doors too.

In the play Sir Thomas More, William Shakespeare foresaw that many of us would be called to make good our moral obligation. For many of us, that time has now come.

Imagine that you see the wretched strangers,

Their babies at the backs and their poor luggage,

Plodding to the ports and coast for transportation,

Should so much come to short of your great trespass,

As but to banish you, whether would you go?

What country, by the nature of your error, should give you harbour,

Why you must needs be strangers.

Would you be pleased to find a nation of such barbarous temper,

That breaking out into hideous violence,

Would not afford you an abode on earth,

Whet their detested knives against your throats,

Spurn you like dogs,

This is the strangers’ case.

And this your mountanish inhumanity.

Donations pile up as Scots respond to refugee crisis

SNP renew attack on Cameron over slow response to crisis

Call to halt demolition of Red Road to provide housing for refugees

Letters to The National, September 7: Shocking image is moving us to question the UK Government’s feeble response to refugee crisis

The National View: Refugee crisis must bring out the best in human nature

Cheering crowds offer a welcome to refugees in Munich

Nicola Sturgeon keeps pressure on the UK to do more, saying she would welcome refugees into her home

George Kerevan: Don’t believe the lies about UK support for the Kindertransport

Carolyn Leckie: Give the refugees safe routes out of war