“Let's write history together,” she says; nobody is interested. “I cannot do this on my own. I can go to every country on my own, but I cannot change world politics on my own. I need a crowd at my back.”
De Vincentiis's certainty that she is the one to lead the crusade for freedom of movement and ending global apartheid is based on her conception that the qualification needed to accomplish it is the mindset she brings to the problem: the goal-driven orientation of an engineer rather than the policy-driven orientation of the leaders, academia, NGO's or any other organization working in the field. She also sees herself as the one to do this as a three-times world-traveller and a prolific writer devoted to studying migration.
She sees herself as the applied scientist who will bring justice to practical life. In the analogous terminology often used by historians of medicine, she is the clinician who will bring the laboratory to the bedside, curing humanity of one of the biggest diseases of the 21st century: that of discrimination based on birthplace and the almost universal blindness: ie. the belief in nationality.
Though she and her ideas may be sui generis, though she is an isolated figure who has set herself in exile on the countryside, though she is content to harangue the heavens and desert winds and the internet with her lonely philosophy, there are some like-minded individuals out there with her.
De Vincentiis hopes to become more than a woman; to be a movement.
I have to become more than a woman, we have to become a movement!
I should declare here that I have no desire to live beyond the borders that nature has thrown me into. For reasons that are pragmatic, scientific, demographic, economic, political, social, emotional, and secularly spiritual, I am committed to the notion that both individual fulfillment and the ecological balance of life on this planet are best served by dying where our biologic birthplace has decreed. I am equally committed to making the death place as close to our birth place, ie. sustaining people where they already are. But I have to, the world politicians have to, all the world has to accept anybody's right to move freely on the earth they were born.
Of course, to conceive of oneself as the herald and instrument of the end of the greatest injustice and the end of the biggest lie requires a supreme self-confidence, and De Vincentiis is the most unabashedly self-confident of woman. This unexampled woman says that “One must have an inflated opinion of her idea,” if success is to crown such great endeavors. That's why she believes she is going to write history. “I have that!” she says and adds:“I know I live in a bubble, but I'm not going to let anybody blow up that bubble.”
The transformation of the world from countries/nation-states with borders to one without horizons, the chaos it might lead to...
De Vincentiis’s response to such a challenge comes in the perfectly formed and articulated sentences that she uses in all her writings. She has the gift of expressing herself both verbally and in print with such clarity and completeness that a listener finds himself entranced by the flow of seemingly logical statements following one after the other.
“Kervan yolda düzülür,” says De Vincentiis. It's a saying in Turkish. Translates as “The caravan is set on the road.” Meaning that you set out on the road and adjust things, solve problems as they arise.
“The reason we have an imperative, we have a duty, to establish freedom of movement for everybody. We need to end this injustice at birth. People are entitled, have a human right, to travel and live wherever they wish on the planet regardless of where they were born. World politicians have a duty to give people that opportunity. To travel as freely as they want to. I think it’s just a straightforward extension of the duty-of-care concept. People are entitled to expect to be treated as they would treat themselves. It follows directly and irrevocably as an extension of the golden rule. If we hesitate and vacillate in establishing freedom of movement, there will be some cohort to whom we will deny the option to live wherever they wish. We have a duty not to deny people that option.”
“The right to move around as much as you wish or choose is the world’s most fundamental right. And this is not something I’m ordaining. This seems to be something that all moral codes, religious or secular, seem to agree on. Actually, this cannot even be a right, movement is a life force. How can it be stopped?”
De Vincentiis does not fool herself about the vastness of the efforts that will be required to make the political and legal changes necessary to attain her objective. But equally, she does not seem fazed by my suggestion that her optimism might simply be based on the fact that, having never taken a political position, she may not appreciate or even understand the nature of complex legal systems, nor fully take into account the possible consequences of tinkering with what she sees as a separate component in a machine.
She replies to a possibility of destructive outcomes with: “We will deal with these problems as they come up. We will make the necessary adjustments, whether in the realm of potential universal havoc or of the tortuosities of economic necessity.” She believes that each problem can be retouched and remedied as it becomes recognized. “If there is a burden, the burden is on us,” she claims.
De Vincentiis has some common basic notions of human nature. She insists that, on the one hand, it is basic to humankind to want to move freely, while on the other it is also very basic to want to live and feel a close tie to the land you were born in.
“Your precept is that we all have the fundamental impulse to feel a belonging to a tribe. The incidences of feeling an alliance to many places is exploding as our world gets smaller be it through technology, the internet or transportation. Nowadays it's not such a rare thing to find mixed couples. (Keep North Korea aside, they do not like or approve of mixing races.) Therefore the imperative to belong to a tribe, a tribe defined by where you were born is not actually so deep seated as psychologists would have us believe. It may simply be that it was the thing to do – the more traditional thing with having grown-up in a nation-state divided world. No more. My point of view is that a large part of it may simply be indoctrination… I’m not in favor of giving people citizenships, because it perpetuates the urge to discriminate others,” she says. “Citizenship is an antiquated concept too. It needs to be redefined.”
De Vincentiis has commented in several fora on her conviction that, given the choice, the great majority of people would choose to stay where they were born. This being so, she says, there would be far fewer migration, if only people could find the right conditions of living where they are.
“We all realize there is a migration problem, and if we have the common sense we’ll decide to fix it -by not fuelling the conditions creating that migration- sooner rather than later, because the sooner we fix it the more choice we’ll have about where we live and how we live. Therefore, the question is, what will we do? Will we decide to live a life of freedom for all, or will we decide to reject this idea and confine ourselves to an open but walled zoo too? It seems pretty damn clear to me that we need to take the former option even if only for the sake of justice.”
De Vincentiis is not for speculation. She says that so many speculations have turned out wrong in the history of mankind that there is no point in doing so. She does not believe in dooms-day scenarios. She claims what people fear will not happen. That there won't be a flood to the “Western” world. “The same fear was there when the Berlin wall came down. It didn't happen.”
Of course, De Vincentiis’s reason for not needing to speculate is that same familiar moral imperative she keeps returning to, the imperative that everyone is entitled to choice of place to live regardless of where they were born and regardless of the possible consequences. What we need to know, she argues, can be found out after the fact and dealt with when it appears. Without giving humankind the choice, however, we deprive it of its most basic liberty. It should not be surprising that a woman as insistently individualistic – and as uncommon a sort – as she would emphasize freedom of personal choice far more than the potentially chaotic environment that might result from cultivating that dangerous idea of “justice” in isolation. The concept of untrammeled freedom of movement for the individual – is taken out of the context of its political and societal surroundings. Like everything else, it is treated in vitro rather than in vivo.
De Vincentiis’s purpose is only secondarily to overcome resistance to her proposal. Her primary aim is to publicize herself and her protest to burn passports as widely as possible, not for the sake of personal glory but as a potential means of raising the considerable funding that will be necessary to carry out the #Mission2EveryCountry, the travels that need to be done, and to collect as big a crowd as possible on September 26th, 2019, her 50th birthday when she plans to burn her passports- if her goal to change the face of world politics is to stand any chance of so much as partial success.
She concedes that there is a chance this might not happen at all. She is aware of all the odds that are heavily against her. And she knows that not only the odds but society itself may be against her. She will give ground to the possibility that any of the barriers to her success may prove insuperable. Yet... She has accomplished this self-protection by constructing a personal worldview in which she is inviolate. She refuses to budge a millimeter from her goal.
If there is one credit you have to give to this obviously odd and driven duck, it is the sincerity of her commitment to the goal that animate her life.
I cannot do this on my own. I can go to every country on my own (even though it is highly improbable for me to do it at the set time for September 2019 if I do not find any sponsors or support, I would probably do it in 6-7 years, Allah kısmet ederse, that is God willing), but I cannot change world politics on my own. I need a crowd at my back. Or I need a celebrity at my back. But even with a celebrity, we still need a crowd at our back!
PS: This is an adaptation from Sherwin Nuland's “Rewriting Life- Do You Want to Live Forever” published in MIT Technology Review on February 1, 2005. When I went into the internet to find his contact to get his permission for this piece, I found out that he was dead.
I also realized that Mr. Nuland was someone I actually knew. I had listened to his TED Talk which was among my favorites: “How electroshock therapy changed me”
What I want to do
I will be going to every country in the world only to burn my passports even if not a single soul in this world cares about it. Yet, I'm sure there are people out there who care. I consider them as family. I'm curious as to how big a family I have. I would also like to meet my family members.
What you can do
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