Let's Be Virtual Friends:
Where are you from? Where is your home?
Many people struggle with these simple questions.
We often describe home as ‘where the heart is’.
Some say, that home is where the wine is or where the WIFI connects automatically.
A quote that stands true for me is:
“Home is not just where you were born. It’s the place where you become yourself.” – Pico Iyer
Mr. Iyer is a British author of Indian descent. He is recognized for his travel writing. I accidentally stumbled upon his TED Talk and immediately related to every word that came out of his mouth.
His outlook is quite refreshing, check it out:
I’m not British, nor am I Indian…but I have been displaced.
You see, there are approximately 250 million migrants in the world and I am one of them, proudly.
Human migration has existed since the beginning of time. We’re natural born explorers and travellers.
Oxford Dictionaries defines two key words that can be used to describe migration:
Exodus: a mass departure of people, or
Diaspora: the dispersion or spread of any people from their original homeland.
*Diaspora was originally used to reference Jewish people living outside of the biblical land of Israel but many other groups have adopted the term since.
When political, environmental or personal conditions aren’t quite satisfactory, we hit the road.
It’s quite a bold move.
Did you know that if every registered immigrant around the globe moved to one country, it would become the 5th largest country in the world? That’s only for registered immigrants. It’s hard to say, but it’s estimated that there are another 30 million illegal immigrants worldwide. It turns out that obtaining proper documentation won’t hold people back from pursuing their dream life.
Since 2000, human migration has increased by a staggering 41% according to the UN Trends in International Migrant Stock Report: The 2015 Revision.
According to The Economist, “More Chinese people live outside mainland China than French people live in France, with some to be found in almost every country. Some 22 million ethnic Indians are scattered across every continent”
Let’s consider the fact that of the hundreds of millions of modern day Americans, there only 5 million (approximately) registered American Indians according to the 2010 Census of American Indians and Alaska Natives. Which means that over 90% of the US citizens are offspring of immigrants. To think that some would be willing to build a wall, to keep Mexicans out sounds a bit strange. But I do realize that there are many other factors surrounding that idea - which we won't discuss here.
The 10 Most Popular Countries for Immigration are: USA, Russia, Germany, Saudi Arabia, UAE, UK, France, Canada, Australia, Spain – according to therichest.com.
Of those countries, did you know that over 80% of the United Arab Emirates are immigrants?!
One of the largest diaspora of our generation is actually occurring right now in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa – it’s the largest refugee crisis since WWII. Every year over 30 million people are displaced due to war, this past year it nearly reached a whopping 60 million. In 2015, over a million people risked their lives to get to Europe. Thousands are still arriving each day. Many sadly do not survive the journey to a new life.
We all know that not every immigrant is respectful of the laws and regulations in their new “home” and that not every newcomer has the best intentions. Yes, some do cause a ruckus – but remember that every person is an individual and does not represent others, just like others who are like you, don't represent you.
We also seem to be preoccupied with the advantages and benefits that are given to immigrants. Keep in mind that they need help, it’s not easy. At the same time, you can’t blame somebody for accepting any help that is offered. For example, in Italy - a country in crisis with a high unemployment rate, immigrants are being given 35 euros a day and mobile phones, among other things; while many Italian citizens living under the poverty line aren't being offered any help. You can imagine how this sort of governing model may hinder the progress of peaceful integration. Citizens of many countries feel the same way. Perhaps, instead of taking it out on the individual, we can confront our governments. It’s like getting mad at your sibling because your parents treated you unequally. It’s not your siblings fault.
Much like a sports team, new players are important to an economy and armies – especially when the players are getting too old to play. Countries are no different. They benefit just as much, if not more, by growing populations – if they manage it well.
But let’s focus on the bright side of migration – because often, we tend to focus on the negatives.
Now that we got that out of the way, back to the positives.
Take a look at how some European nations are reacting to this recent exodus. These videos give me hope for the human race. I'm sure negative videos exist as well but we'll leave those for the mass media to report.
Vienna is just one example of human kindness, compassion and generosity:
Greece is also waiting at the shores:
Greece is also waiting at the shores:
Italy spends most of their naval budget on rescue missions:
There are countless nations and wonderful human beings that are currently helping people in need. When it comes down to it, we’re there for each other. It is especially evident when natural disasters strike, the international aid is a nice reminder of our love for each other.
Generosity can be one of our greatest attributes.
Diversity helps break down barriers and it allows people of various; cultures, races and religions, to get to know each other.
Sharing a country, is like sharing your home, it’s not perfect but it forces us to integrate and find some common ground.
Sharing IS caring, it’s not just for kindergarten students. Often, adults who are set in their ways and afraid of change, are the ones who resist immigration the most. Children are usually more open-minded because they're still in development and forming their opinions about the world. But adults often fear the unknown and fail to realize that essentially, we all have the same desires in life.
We all need the same things; food, water, safety and more often we have similar feelings.
Children who grow up in these diverse nations tend to grow up into tolerant individuals, growing into a multi-ethnic nation.
When we think about achieving peace in the world, there is no better way than to start learning about each other.
One of the things I love about travelling, is encountering all sorts of expats (people living outside of their country of origin).
Here are some notable encounters:
The Italian man, running an Indian restaurant in the Philippines
The Chinese family running an Italian restaurant in Venice
The Keanu Reeves look-alike in Italy that was half Thai half German, speaking English with a thick German accent
The timid Senegalese fellow living in Spain who I exchanged some French words with
The pot-smoking American grandmother working at a “café” in Amsterdam
The Ghanaian businessman that was vacationing in Spain, but living in Germany
The Romanian woman that was taking care of a little old lady in Italy
The Canadian-born, Jamaican-raised rasta (with beautiful dreads that nearly touched the ground), living in Britain
The half African half Russian girl, living in Tokyo as a resident club DJ.
The amazing British couple (of Indian descent), honeymooning in Venice
This type pf globalization and integration is such a powerful component on the road to peace. When these people interact with their family and friends (back home), the stories they share will open minds. Their family members will likely visit a place that they wouldn’t otherwise have traveled to and experience a new culture. It is ultimately about ridding of the fear that we have for each other, simply because we tend to fear the unknown.
The problem is that we have a natural tendency to be overly patriotic. Think about the insane fandom in the world of sports, or politics and religion. When we belong to something, we can become drastically loyal, to the point of war. What does that really say about us?
Sure, you may be able to link your heritage back one hundred years, but what about 1000 years, or even 10,000 years? It’s highly unlikely that your family tree has roots in just one or even a couple of nations.
We've been on the move long since before recorded history. It goes to show that we have the power to make changes in our lives. It takes a lot of courage to face the uncertainties of moving to another country where you face a variety of intolerance to barriers such as language, culture, race and religious.
Let’s not make migration any harder than it already is. It's truly an opportunity and if we have a problem with it, let’s take it up with the parents, not the children.
Countries/colonies were created by man, and so were their borders.
I have no more of a right to a country then you do.
We can’t all be geographically blessed by birth.