Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Human Way

I keep seeing posts on Facebook like this one, about parenting the "Danish Way" and how great the Danish health care and education system is. But this is also the same country that at this very moment is doing everything in its power to keep refugees out so that things can stay that way for the mostly not-brown people who already live there.

An extremely high quality of life for some comes at a price, and that price is a terrible quality of life for almost everyone else. The problem, though, is that the world is increasingly interconnected and international boundaries are beginning to lose their meaning. People in the developing world who were once isolated from their own inequity can now see it plainly on social media, in real time. 

It's not just Denmark, of course. It's the entire western world that denies any collective responsibility for its fellow human beings. We love to pretend that immigrants overburden receiving countries when in fact, they enrich them greatly; not only in dollars, but in culture and community. Regardless, we can no longer afford to treat our countries like velvet-roped night clubs, no matter what a thug-bouncer like Donald Trump says on a campaign trail.

I think the real resistance to immigration is shame, not fear. Of course there is the largely unsubstantiated fear of resource depletion and "terrorism" that immigrants will bring. That's what the news loves to talk about, because that's what everyone already believes. And people love to have their beliefs--correct or not--reinforced in an echo chamber. 

But no one talks about the subconscious power of shame. For in looking at the current refugee crisis, we cannot help but turn the mirror back on ourselves and feel ashamed of a global system utterly bereft of social equality. One in which those with power and privilege are undeniably complicit. It's as though we use an "out of sight, out of mind" approach coupled with checkbook humanitarianism to insulate ourselves from our own shame. 

But it's not that easy. And it's not sustainable.

So just maybe we should all stop praising the "Danish Way" or the "American Way," and start thinking and talking about how we can start doing things the "Human Way." How we can make the world more fair for everyone, so we don't tolerate outrageous disparities in social and economic equality where this nice blonde woman gets a million dollar education for free, and a little brown toddler washes up on a beach like driftwood.

1 comment:

  1. Well said! Imagining what it will really take to bring equality to 7 billion people is frightening, but we need to spend more time thinking about it.


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