Intuitively, open borders sound good. Living in Southeast Asia and seeing the massive restrictions on the peoples ability to travel outside their countries is sobering. You can’t choose where you’re born, and simply being born from a country with an unfavorable passport sucks. With that said, these barriers do serve a role.
Thais have a hard time getting a visa into South Korea, for example, because many Thais go there, overstay their visa, and never return to Thailand, therefore causing South Korea to block Thais in the future for obtaining a visa. This reaction totally makes sense.
In the past, boundaries made a lot of sense. As people settled throughout the world, people formed their own local communities, and coordinated together for the better of the group. We were naturally territorial due to threats from outsiders – it’s in our DNA. One of the awkward feelings of traveling is overcoming that innate feeling of distrust of foreigners and trusting people of different beliefs, experiences, and outlooks on life. Some people hate this feeling, other people love it. It is the feeling of walking into the unknown.
Today is a starkly different world where these “local communities” are now nations, and we no longer just work together, we interact almost as if our own tribe. I live in Thailand, live a life nearly as a Thai person would, yet I’m not a Thai citizen, have a US passport, and view the world through the lens of my experience. Our communities are merging, aka globalization.
So with this change, an important question to ask is: does managing the world through individual nation states make sense? One policy change America makes can influence all of Europe, does it make sense for only Americans to have this sort of influence? It’s worth thinking about.
I’m not sure of a solution to the issue of nation states, but I do think politically and as communities we should be looking at the bigger picture. When a president, mayor, or other politician gets elected, his goal shouldn’t be to just better the nation or community they’re from, but should be to better the world. When we make decisions, we shouldn’t just think of ourselves and the our community, but instead our entire world, which is really our community. We all share the world, and it is becoming ever smaller.
We can communicate in seconds via the internet, we can fly cheaper and cheaper and faster and faster. By nearly all means, it does feel smaller. We live in a time where these issues of boundaries and borders are most important. How we cope with it will decide how our future world looks. Will we fight and destroy ourselves? Will we be able to resolve the differing value systems between the west and the Middle East? Time will tell.
Because we’re all individuals, the best we can do is lead by example. Are you living a life that you think is good for the whole? In other words, if everyone lived like you, would the world be what you want it to be? Are you living a sustainable life? If not, it’s worth noting. You can’t be another person, but you can do your part to make the world what you want it to be.
I just finished reading “A Strange Death of Europe” which shows how immigration into Europe will radically change Europe. It already has, however subtle it may seem. Is it for the better? The place the Europeans call home is now likely to become a majority-foreign land. This means if you’re a British born Caucasian, you’ll soon be a minority in England. This speaks somewhat of the true trends of other countries as well. Mass immigration radically changes the makeup, culture, belief system, and economic structure of a country. Uncontrolled immigration leads to countless other issues. Europe isn’t even sure how many immigrants has come in as the control system has been flooded.
On one end of the spectrum we have all open borders where humans can freely roam the earth. On the other end we have completely closed borders where you are born dictates the space on earth where you can roam. The optimal solution is likely somewhere in between. With entirely open borders I’m not certain we can function effectively as economically everyone would exploit the wealthiest spots, therefore destroying their structure and contributions to the greater good of humanity. Places like the US wouldn’t exist with entirely open borders, and the scientific contributions the US has made to the greater whole exist, in part, through collaboration of groups of people – such as a university being within a community, but enabling groups of people to work together in seclusion. However, if immigration wasn’t possible, the US would be severely missing out on many of the people that have contributed to make the US what it is. The same is true for the UK and many other western and eastern societies that have contributed to the greater good of humanity.
I’m unsure of where on the spectrum we should be. If Murray in right in his book, we need to make changes in how we integrate. When a new immigrant goes to a new place and culture, how should he or she integrate? If we allow it to naturally happen without defined systems of integration, we end up like London where people don’t necessarily integrate, and form their own communities. Is this really constructive to the greater good? Probably not. We’d be better off integrating people into our culture and society, working *with* each other to accomplish the things in life we want to accomplish, not as a city or country, but as a world. We should be discussing what these things are. Is it the pursuit of scientific understanding of the world to cure disease, solve carbon pollution, build maps of the world for better navigation, or is it something else? It’s worth criticizing bad ideas, openly talk about problems and solutions, and be open minded in discovering simply better ways to live.