What else is at the root of the problem with immigration?
People are self-righteous to claim a piece of land as theirs, people are near-sighted to claim only a piece of land, not the world as theirs to roam freely. For some reason, they stop short at an imaginary line, or they claim a continent. And this is a natural result of the current political system.
In “The Origins of Totalitarianism” (1951), the political theorist Hannah Arendt wrote:
“The conception of human rights based upon the assumed existence of a human being as such broke down at the very moment when those who professed to believe in it were for the first time confronted with people who had indeed lost all other qualities and specific relationships – except that they were still human. The world found nothing sacred in the abstract nakedness of being human. .... (Refugees knew) that the abstract nakedness of being human was their greatest danger.”
Yes, isn't it ridiculuous to argue that a sovereign nation-state has a right to control its borders and decide who can get in, but a human, any human, does not have a right to go anywhere s/he wishes on the planet s/he was born by the mere fact that s/he is a human?
We have rights as citizens, and we have more rights if we are a citizen of a “great” country. We do not have rights as humans.
As Joe Humphreys writes in the Irish Times:
“Arendt witnessed how those without a state were “expelled from humanity”, and the same applies today.
Slavery is better than being stateless, she wrote, as “to be a slave was after all to have a distinctive character, a place in society more than the abstract nakedness of being human and nothing but human”.
Think about that the next time you bleat about your right to something. Think about what’s being done to refugees in your name. Their vulnerability is ours.”
Yes. Their vulnerability is ours. And deep inside, we all know that. That's why the resistance not to accept a basic human right: the right of movement. That's why we want to deny others that right, so that we can enjoy it ourselves. For as we believe in scarcity and not abundance, and we are selfish. We believe in scarcity and not abundance even when it comes to security. We do not believe everybody can live in security. It's either our security or theirs. Eh, when faced with that choice, it's the most natural thing to choose our security over "the other's.
As long as the political arena stays the way it is, i.e. As long as there are countries... No, let me not say that, let there be countries... As long as we see countries as on a political map, as long as we set up artificial borders between people, as long as we see sovereign nation-states and being its citizens at birth as the norm, as long as there is the belief in a government to protect us and to defend our rights, as long as we sustain governments by our money, as long as we go on with the same money game, I don't see a way for us to get out of this.
Our goal should be to install a new world software where man does not fear man.
Our goal should be to install a new money software where we give/share/exchange the produce of our labors.
Apart from these... To me, the best message would be... To break down the artificial barriers between people, to break down the current political system. And the way I found to get the message through to achieve that end is to travel to every country in the world and burn my passports. So please endorse my endeavor and let's be in this together. Let's reset the world!
I criticized this tweet. Now, I have to do the advocate and offer an alternative.
True. Public support needs to be won on behalf of migrants. It is impossible, -even if not impossible, it would be meaningless and stupid to implement something when there is so much opposition to it. And the tweet is an attempt to counter-act that opposition.
There was another version of the same type of poster with nurses, doctors, etc. basically implying that they come and work and contribute to the host country. Something like this:
I guess this is a better version. Still... The problem remains.
This is playing the card of profit. It implies that you will be or you might be benefiting from the immigrants coming over to "your" country. There are two things that are offset here:
The first, you are fueling the selfishness of the people. Okay, it may be said you are taking advantage of people's selfishness to pave the way to your cause. But then again, you do this by fueling selfishness.: Which is at the base of the problem.
The second, if we are to arrive at a better world and sustain it for the next generation, we need to do some radical change in the mindset of people and start doing that by undermining the core beliefs about the political state of the world, and we need to appeal to and address principles.
The problem still remains: People who do not sympathize with migrants or "foreigners" will not change their minds by looking at such posters. So, what is the best way to counter-act the opposition to the mobility of people?
We have to first identify the problem so that we can attack it at the root. I start with the simple one: The nature of man (or our society!)
We are pretty selfish in the Western world. We like the comforts of our modern lives and we'd like to keep our privileges. Sure, there are many people sacrificing and helping in many ways. Ah, don't think they can avoid attacks. People who want to hit and criticize someone, find an excuse to hit and criticize. They claim those who try to be of help are “morally vain.” There might be truth to that claim. Even if so, it would be a rightful vanity if you ask me.
Anyway... Some people do not help, but they feel what's being done by the governments in our name is not right. They feel compassion for refugees, they feel compassion even for the migrants, they say they'd do the same if they were in their shoes. On the other hand, they cannot bring themselves to do that thing which seems as too much of a self-sacrifice.
These “compassionate” people are afraid of being crucified even when they express their understanding, lest their empathy be seen as approval. After all, there is a mob out there. A mob ready to attack. So the compassionates right away apologetically state: “I'm not claiming that we open borders or anything...”
On the other hand... They don't want to come off as a brutal person. It's all about how we want to see ourselves in the mirror, you know? And how we want to reflect ourselves for others to see...
So what are you going to do? There seem to be three choices here (if you exclude letting people die because of your "borders".) Are you going to welcome migrants, are you going to expel them, or are you going to select and welcome some and expel the rest?
Trying to control people's movement is a hell of a job. To me, it can never be worth the cost. But that's what governments are pushing for. Control control, more control.
Security is only for “us”. We do not care much about the security of “others”.
Social security, too, is for “our” people. After all, charity needs starting at home, right? Yes. Does it mean we cannot do it all? That's where we diverge: At the answer to this question. Some people believe we can, some believe we cannot. I am of the former belief and I like the comment posted by “AhBrightWings JohnBull101" on the Guardian about helping refugees or helping veterans, homeless etc. at home:
“Believe it or not, both can be done. We've been conned into thinking that we can only deal with one crisis at a time. Ironically, that's why we solve none of them, at home or abroad, because they're all inextricably related. We have people on the streets because of a lack of empathy and compassion; that condition becomes calcified and the norm; hence we cannot offer anything to those at our gates. At some point hate and fear and selfishness become an endless feedback loop and then--to all our detriment-- a way of life.”
And that's our predicament.
Therein comes the next points: Fear and the political organization of the world.
Migration Aid tweeted the above poster with the caption "Syrian celebrities who changed the world."
First of all, let me state that I encourage every good-intentioned effort. And this is a good start to make people who have never thought about the issue get involved.
On the other hand, I'm sorry... As much as I defend the cause this tweet was for, -and I understand the logic behind it, that people would feel more for the refugees, for the people dying at sea if they were stars, singers, celebrities- I cannot endorse it with that caption as I believe it gives the wrong message.
People do not need to have the capacity to change the world in order to be able to walk freely on the world they were born. Our being mere human should be enough.
We all change the world in our own way. We really don't have to be Steve Jobs or anybody else.
People's having rights just because they are citizens of a certain sovereign state... That's what's wrong with the world of today.
Playing the card of people's having rights because they are celebrities, or they could be celebrities, is just as wrong.
To see a better version of this post, please read on...
Note: I guess I would have been fine if the poster was left as it is. i.e. Without adding "Syrian celebrities who changed the world." Because the way the poster is set, it's just people saying where they are from and giving information about who they are. That's perfectly fine. But when you add that caption, it sort of implies that people are worth to come into some country because they might be celebrities. Or it implies that's why people should care, and that implication is not so right.
“I think the next little bit of excitement is ﬂying. I hope I am not too old to take it up seriously, nor too stupid about machines to qualify as a commercial pilot. I do not feel like spending the rest of my life writing books that no one will read. It is not as though I wanted to write them.”
The Letters of Samuel Beckett1929–1940 (2009), p. 362
It was so funny to read this quote from Beckett. Not that I want to write what I write either. As I said, some other creature makes me write. However, I am just fine spending the rest of my life writing things that no one will read.
“... no need of a story, a story is not compulsory, just a life, that's the mistake I made, one of the mistakes, to have wanted a story for myself, whereas life alone is enough.”
Beckett also wrote. (“Texts for Nothing.” 1955)
No, a story is certainly not compulsory. He is right. Life alone is enough.
Still... It is nice to live your life as a good story. I like writing my life's story. I do not write it alone, that's for sure. Somebody helps me with it and I am grateful to whoever that is.
We were in high school. My step-sister did not know when the First World War happened. I was horrified! How could she not know that?! It wasn't even the Second World War in question.: Which, for some reason, -maybe because we (i.e. Turkey) weren't involved or because the first one seemed to be the major one- it would have been okay if someone did not know the dates of the Second World War. At least, that's what my teenage self deemed. But how could anyone not know 1914-1918?! How was it possible?
Now... I look back upon it and wonder why I was so surprised. I have no answer actually. Is it really important? I mean of course it's good to know the historical tales and to be able to put them in context, but thinking about all the years and wars we've been taught in history class... What else do I remember? Do I remember Attila and the Hunnic Empire, do I remember anything related to the Roman Empire apart from knowing that it was split in two at some point in time and the capital of the west was Rome, the capital of the east Constantinople? No. Do I even know when the Ottoman Empire was founded? I roughly have an idea of the century. If I am not mistaken... (I checked, I wasn't mistaken.) Oh, I know when Fatih Sultan Mehmet conquered Constantinople. 1453. I know even the day. 29th of May. But these I know because somehow they've been stuck in my memory. Through repetition, through coming into contact with it because of celebrations. I know the big sultans of the Ottoman Empire. There are three. The two others apart from Fatih the Conquerer are Sultan Beyazıt and Süleyman the Magnificient. I probably know who came before who. I have an idea that Süleyman got to the doors of Vienna. That's all I know.
Oh sorry, I had an idea that Sultan Beyazıt was wrong. I knew that there had to be a nickname to the third great sultan. It just didn't come to my mind right away. It's Yavuz Sultan Selim. Beyazıt is the son of Fatih, the father of Selim. Ah of course, then there is the famous Sultan Murat who banned alcohol. But I didn't know if it was the Murat the IV, or Murat the V, or Murat the II. (I checked again. So it's Murat the IV. My first choice :) Ah, don't ask me anything about the last sultans Abdülhamit, Abdülmecit, Abdülaziz... They're all the same to me.
Oh I know that we threw the Greeks to the sea on 30th of August. How could I not know that? It's a holiday. Every year, the same story gets repeated. Same goes for the foundation of the parliament, the children's day, the foundation of the republic, the youth day when Atatürk set out on his quest to save the nation... These dates we all know; I suppose.
This is all I have left of my history classes... Don't even get into the histories of other countries. Nothing at all. Nothing! Amazing, isn't it? Considering this is all I have left of the more than a decade study of history, 3-5 hours every week, it's the worst kind of investment. It's a total waste of time and resources. Wouldn't you agree?
Okay. You may say this is history and it has been taught in a wrong way. What about geography? What do the things we learnt all those years serve? We don't live in that geography anymore. Countries are split and formed, new nations spring up.
I'm sorry I don't take it on myself that I am a dumb person who didn't learn anything. Come on... I graduated from the best schools. And with fairly good grades. Sure, there are people who remember more about what they learnt, but that's a deviation from the norm.
What about maths and sciences? Maths, by its own very nature, due to the fact that we are involved with money in our every day lives and that money plays a crucial role in our welfare, is important. But I believe that involves a completely different aspect than getting good grades at maths or really knowing maths, all the algebra, geometry, integrals, solving complex equations etc. My husband, he doesn't know how to spend money; he is just so awful when it comes to spending money. He always makes the wrong choices, he doesn't calculate anything and therefore gets cheated very often. (Okay, more often than acceptable I should say.) As for me, I am very money-conscious. I've been raised that way and I had to develop that skill because I never made much money. I learnt to live on little. That's my trait. I don't need much in life. I value life experience rather than material things. On the other hand, my husband may be bad at spending money, but he knows how to make money. Sure, by going to an office and the way I look at it “selling his life,” but he is fine with that. So what's the problem!
Besides, this hasn't got anything to do with schooling. He graduated from the best university around here. (Here meaning Italy.) In a different area than maths and sciences, but still... he went to high-school and studied maths. Our neighbor, who has only elementary education, knows how to keep money. She keeps track of all the promotions, she spends her money wisely. Because she too, has very little money and has to make the best of what she has. So being good about managing money has nothing to do with school either.
What about literature? Well... My Turkish was never so good. I now have published books. Published by a publisher, not self-published. Still, there are so many mistakes in my first book, any literary person would not take it seriously. I did not care much back then, and the publisher did not even have the manuscript read and edited. Mind you, this wasn't an ordinary publisher either, it was one of the top five publishers and one of the two oldest publishers in Turkey. Anyway... I believe I write better now, but is it of any importance apart from my own satisfaction? People who do not really know Turkish have many published books, people who do not know proper Turkish translate books, and people who do not know proper Turkish publish those books to become best-sellers! You cannot even understand what the author is saying. You have to read the sentences twice, thrice before getting any idea of what they're trying to say. People who do not know proper Turkish publish newspapers and magazines, people who do not know proper Turkish write articles in those newspapers and magazines, people who do not know proper Turkish even become editors! And somebody pays them money for it! Heeey... It's a free world out there. (I mean the market is free. Freedom is for the "market", not for people to move around in the world.) As we say in Turkish “Her topal eşeğin bir kör alıcısı bulunur.” There is a blind buyer for every lame donkey. It is so true.
The only trouble is to find that blind buyer. I guess if you interact with enough people, you will eventually find him. Even though I couldn't :) But that's only because my ideas are so out of the norm. Yet, I still believe there must be somebody out there who would be my patron if he knew about me. Anyway, let's get back to school...
Education for the Unknown Future
Nowadays there is a trend of un-schooling, world-schooling, road-schooling... Does everything really have to be “Ah look at me, I'm just doing something so great,” trying to show everyone how to live and show the road they should take? It's good of course, to show that it is possible. People should not be confined to only one option, confined to one road to take in life. There is no one road that leads to happiness... Unfortunately, the society we live in today promotes a pre-designed one-size-fits-all life for everybody. I mean in the modern, developed places that's the way it is. And the developing ones are looking up to us. Trying to mimic what we are doing with education, technology and business. Certainly, there is a point for scholarly learning. If I roadschool or worldschool or unschool my daughter, she won't have a chance of becoming a professor, making a scientific discovery, inventing anything.
But even that is not so true. There are people who invent machines without having studied physics and maths and engineering or without having gone to school. There are so many successful dropouts in the world. Still... School gives you an opportunity to study different fields; you may see what interests you most and develop it. And if you want to do research in some fields, an official education would serve you well.
Some people tell me I undervalue the good of school but I myself have gone to the best schools myself. Or they say I undervalue it and do not care because I have gone to the best schools myself. They say it would be unfair to my daughter if I don't give her that chance. They say that it's my desire to live away from this kind of society, this rat-race, this grid. It's true. What if Lara would choose a different path? I have to give her the opportunity to make that choice when she grows up. I mean I feel I have to. On the other hand, she came to me. She chose me as her mother. I don't know if it's true that we choose our families but why not? Could be. Even if not, she was born to this family. That's her birth lottery. (And may I say I believe it's not a bad one!) She will live whatever is carved out for her. I think the only responsibility I have to my daughter is to give her the tools for her to be happy, to let her develop her interests. To teach her to live the moment. Actually, children know that very well. The important thing is not to make them lose that, not to let them forget that trait.
I remember I had it when I was a child.
I had a strong sense of intuition too. When my brother or my cousin hid something in their hands, I always could tell which hand it was in. Okay, I know you normally have a 50 % chance. Nopes. I got it right all the time. Or almost all the time. Then I tuned out. I was taught not to trust my instincts.
I was taught to ask for advice. I was taught to do what others told me to do. I was taught to live the life that others deemed appropriate for me, to live the life they chose for me.
I'm a big city girl who has studied at the best schools in Turkey, been overpraised for it, inoculated with pride and thus has become stuck-up. We all are inoculated with pride, those of us who have graduated from Robert College and Boğaziçi University. I don't know about the other good schools. But my schools were the best and you bet we were proud of it. The pride is grounded, of course. It's well-deserved. We were chosen among hundreds of thousands in the exams, we were among the top 1 %, we were the crème de la crème. But over the years, coming across graduates who are running big firms, newspapers,* banks* etc. (* the links are in Turkish) who are considered “successful”, and seeing that they're not really capable of even understanding or implementing basic logic, or not exercising good work ethics, I was disillusioned.
Let alone the above examples, -all the things that we learn and forget,- what did I know when I graduated? I didn't know about the world. I didn't know life, I didn't know death. I didn't know anything about healthy cooking. I didn't know anything about the amazing things in the world. I remember we learnt about clouds in elementary school. And I believe that was one of the good things that we learnt. But then we didn't put it to practice, we didn't go observing the clouds and the weather, it was of no use. Wouldn't it be nice if we could all forecast the weather, tell if it's going to rain or if a storm is coming? Sailors used to know that stuff. Okay, it takes practice. Still... what about learning about the skies? It's interesting. Think how wonderful it would be if you were a child again and had all the time at your hands to observe the universe, the stars. There is the macrocosm on one side, the microcosm on the other. I studied these myself after I grew up. But couldn't go in depth. I wish I had that opportunity when I was at school, or when I was a child. So naturally, that's what I want to give my daughter. Don't we all do that, want what we didn't have for our children? Still... I hope I will not enforce any of the things that I think my daughter should do for a good life, but observe her and guide her in the things she is interested in. I want her to do the thing she likes.
Many of my friends decide where they're going to live according to the school of the child. First they choose the school, then they choose the house to move. I won't be doing that. I cannot do that. I will go about my life. I will try my best to raise her with responsibility, give her all the tools that may help her in life and contribute to her overall happiness. I think language is one of those things and she is blessed to speak three languages at the age of 3. I wish to go to South America for some time where she can learn Spanish. Yeah, that I'd be doing. Travelling for her to learn a language and to interact with different cultures and ways of life.
I don't think children need the teachings of school specifically. After learning to read and write, you give them books, they read and learn themselves. I believe critical thinking and questioning are most important. We were not taught these at school. Or maybe we were, and I just wasn't aware of it. Maybe it was subtle. So subtle that I didn't even realize. Maybe even my engineering education which I now see as a complete waste served something. Perhaps it affected my thinking. After all, people sometimes tell me “Ah, that's just engineer's logic.”
I don't know... Things sometimes seem so random. Whatever I do, I'll do it thinking it is the best for Lara and our circumstances.
As Ken Robinson said in his famous TED talk in 2006, (I say it's famous because it's one of the top watched talks!) "If you think of it, children starting school this year will be retiring in 2065. Nobody has a clue, despite all the expertise that's been on parade for the past four days, what the world will look like in five years' time. And yet we're meant to be educating them for it. So the unpredictability, I think, is extraordinary."
It's true. The world is changing so much.
So I guess my reasoning makes sense. I do what I think is best for my daughter and then hope it actually turns out to be the best...
I was looking for the difference between caution and precaution. I came across Ramesh's answer. He said:
Precaution: Tiger should be in the cage.
Caution: Many tigers
Precaution: We should be in a cage.”
I couldn't help but laugh at the spot-on analysis and the similarity to my situation.
Unfortunately, there are too many tigers in the world. No, not real tigers of course. Those we have eliminated. I'm talking about bad people. There are too many bad people to lock up in prisons. There has to be something to protect one's self from the tigers that are roaming among us, even among the high places in society. That's why I lock myself up out here in the countryside.
Note: This is tongue-in-cheek. And of course there is one more reason for my self-imposed exile.
Today I met someone who berated me nastily (and unjustly I'd say) on a mail-group. Things are so different in person. If you cannot say something to someone's face, you shouldn't be writing them at all. She couldn't bring herself to say anything. The conversation turned cold after we realized who we were. She pretended not to hear or not to remember when I sort of mentioned and asked about it. Then we said good-bye in a civilized manner and went our separate ways.
It made me so happy to see her happy. Who wouldn't be happy with the happiness of their child? But I am horrified to realise that I have raised a spoiled brat. Okay, maybe I am exaggerating… But it’s true. I believe kids going around in nature with little stuff and a gang to play with as in Africa are much happier and more likely to be happier. Certainly, I’m excluding the lack of food or the lack of basic needs of life. But apart from those, we really need so little in life.
“Am I raising a spoiled brat?”
Let me tell you what made me ask this question:
I go to the market on Thursdays. And most often times, I come back with a lot of new things for Lara. There are dresses, skirts, pants, shirts, t-shirts, sweaters and jumpers for 1 Euro. I buy large sizes thinking she will be using as she grows up. We also have the cousin and friends who could use them too. They’re 1 Euro after all. The price of a cup of coffee I don’t drink. So now, I have a wardrobe for her until she turns 15 or so, and then she can use my wardrobe. We don’t really need to go shopping anymore.
Anyway… Today I didn’t buy anything. I set myself a challenge. “Only 3 pieces and/or 3 Euros.” As Lara had been wearing the same sweater all week, and as I had been arranging the drawers, I realised she had too much. I also remembered that we actually need so very little, we can use so very little in life.
This buying thing is a habit. The urge to buy is a mindset. It is a matter of ignoring the social and media pressure to own. I had gained immunity to all that. Then, living in Italy, being together with an Italian man, I changed back. My buying habits changed, but it's very difficult to change the nature of a person. I personally do not care what I put on. I can go around with the same pijama on for days if I'm not going out. Changing clothes every day is a chore for me. Even if I did that, I guess I couldn’t finish everything in my wardrobe in a year. So this week,
I didn’t buy anything.
When Lara came back, I was telling her, “You know I went to the market today, I didn’t buy anything…”
She thought I said I bought something for her, because that’s the usual scenario, and she started running joyfully saying “I run if you have bought new things for me…”
I repeated: “But I didn’t buy anything for you.”
She stopped in her tracks. I felt mean for saying that. It wasn’t nice to see a child be disappointed, changing from happy to sad in an instant. She started a shrieky cry.
I tried to explain her. “But you always wear the same dress. What are you going to do with new things?”
Of course, she cannot reason. A child is not a logical creature. It’s disputable how logical we adults are when it comes to greed and habits too, but let’s not get into that now.
She calmed down after a while and became her normal self. I didn’t blame her. I questioned myself. After all, I am the one who got her used to all this. I am the one who has been buying stuff and exhibiting them every week on the couch for her and for papa to see when they come back home. It’s good to be able to provide your child with nice things, but is it really good to do more than necessary?
My daughter is not really spoilt. Even if she was, she does not deserve to be called a spoiled brat. I am the one who would be guilty of spoiling her.
She has so many toys too. A big cupboard and boxes full of toys. I tell people not to bring presents but to make a donation to an orphanage instead, people still buy stuff. There is no getting away from it in our modern society. That’s why I have made a point to avoid Christmas and birthdays away from family even though I like the family dinners and getting together.
As for the things I have accumulated… I guess I’m not giving up my things as Lara will be using them one day, hopefully. But I started making a big package of what Lara doesn’t use, doesn't play with, put them away. I'll be taking them to an orphanage and make her give away. So that she learns giving too.
And maybe… We might even go to Africa together after all. Maybe it’s better she experiences and witnesses poverty first-hand. Because my telling her stories of hungry, homeless children or showing pictures is not enough.
Yes, perhaps there just may be another reason for me to travel to every country in the world.