A man without borders
I think I must be strange. I see nations turning away refugees and it confuses me. When people say foreigners are taking their jobs I am bemused. I just don’t get it.
The reason for my confusion? I just don’t get the idea of nationhood. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the principle. I know why nations exist. They just don’t fit with how I see the world.
To me it makes no sense that I have more rights over this piece of land called England simply because I was born here in some genetic lottery. I did nothing to earn that right. Sure I have contributed to the countries infrastructure in taxes but I have taken a huge amount from it too. Why shouldn’t anybody else have the same opportunity?
I know the arguments against opening our doors to immigrants. I understand it could arguably damage our standard of living. But what gives us a right to protect that standard of living at the costs to somebody else?
That said, I know the majority of people disagree with me. That to most people national boundaries matter. It makes me wonder why I have ended up thinking the way I do.
Where my confusion comes from
I think there are a couple of moments that have shaped this thinking. Core memories to put it in the language of Inside Out.
The first happened when I was eighteen. I was fortunate enough to travel to Poland just after the Berlin Wall had come down. It was part of a Christian exchange program and to be honest I was terrified.
Just after we arrived we went to a church service just outside of Warsaw. We couldn’t understand a word that was said and nobody at the service could speak English. But we were so welcomed and loved that it didn’t matter. I felt more of a connection with these total strangers in another country than I did with some of those kids I went to school with. We were connected by our faith. Something far deeper and more profound than geography.
The second event happened just after I first started using the web. I had become heavily involved in an online community with people from all over the world. I began to develop friendships with people in India, Iran, The States, China and South America.
One of the people who took part in the community was a lady called Crystal. Crystal was disabled and this new thing called the web had changed her life. She had been housebound for years and felt isolated. But now she suddenly had access to a new group of friends. She came alive and was the heart of our little community. Everybody loved her.
Then one day she vanished. Days went by without her logging on. Eventually her husband came online and told us that she had died. We were devastated. Devastated to lose this person we had never met. We didn’t know how to process it. In the end we held an online memorial. We all shared our experiences of Crystal and said goodbye.
People from all over the world grieved for this woman. People from every country, every religion and every race. It didn’t matter where Crystal was from, she was family. We were family.
Nationality is an artificial construct
Nationality is a artificial construct, it is something we have imposed on our world. Something from our prehistoric past. The same is true for nations.
But really we are all just clinging to the same small, blue ball hurtling through space. Once you realise that you cannot but wonder what gives me any rights over some small scrap of land on that tiny speck in the cosmos.