Borders

Anger

I dream of a world without borders. As John Lennon wrote in his amazing song Imagine“imagine no countries”. For a start it would be a world of peace and understanding. We all need to realise that as a race, the human race, we are essentially one. If there is actually a more advanced species out there, or a God, they would certainly see us that way. Borders are not natural, and they are not neutral. They discriminate against the poor and displaced. They enhance inequality, denying the simple truth that there is enough wealthy to go around if only we shared it properly.

There are several contributing factors to what you see internationally today, and over-population is one of them. It was always inevitable that earth had its limits in terms of sustainability. Tribalism led us to cocoon ourselves in relatively small communities where we established a particular culture, language and laws. But these cocoons were always going to meet, always going to clash. Instinctively we strove to protect our societies, fearing changes to our cultures, seeing the melding of different cultures as antithetical to the natural order. But, of course, this melding was always going to happen. We just chose to ignore it.

Other factors have hastened this process, not just the world's burgeoning population. To compound this natural phenomenon, the challenges of cultural disruption are affected by issues such as man's greed and lust for power, tribalism, ethnicity, nationalism, inequality, corruption and religious doctrine. All together this has seen an exponential escalation of racism and nationalism the world over. As well as promoting violence and wars, these factors have seen mass migration as people suffering from poverty and fear seek a better life.

Today throughout the world we have seen far-right political movements become popularly preferred, particularly in an over-crowded Europe. Anxieties over national identity and the effects of globalisation and immigration have turned to fear and loathing. Even in Sweden, one of Europe's most liberal nations, the nationalist Sweden Democrats share government following a surge in the right wing vote. Increasingly, Western countries are imposing restrictions on people who don't speak the language of the country to which they wish to emigrate. This seems incredulous to me. Language is a matter of ethnic identity that is learned as a child. But, increasingly, people from many countries are prolific in a number of languages. In countries like Australia, Britain and the US we have isolated and insulated ourselves by insisting that immigrants are able to speak an acceptable level of English. This requirement didn't exist fifty years ago but as these countries become more and more fearful of change, nationalism has risen to the point where people who don't look and speak the same as the majority of locals are being increasingly derided, abused and demeaned. The “go back to where you came from”message is embraced by so many of the ignorant who are fear driven, fears that are deliberately promoted by conservative politicians.

This “clash” of cultures needn't have been a clash at all, it could have been a meeting, a melding, a seamless blending. Western governments have shown a clear lack of long-term thinking and the basic understanding that adaptability in a changing world is mandatory to survival. Why children haven't been taught about other cultures and languages is a cloak of nationalism and denial. While many countries do teach their children second and even multiple languages, Australia has been left behind. It is why the general public supports cuts to immigration and the rejection of refugees. The government proudly proclaims it has stopped the boats and the drowning of refugees at sea. But this has simply moved the problem elsewhere, which seems incredibly selfish. They keep reminding us that 1,200 people died at sea trying to reach Australia during the Labor government years, But at least 8,500 refugees and migrants have died or gone missing trying to cross the Mediterranean alone, an unknown number of them children. Our so-called “leaders” talk constantly about the “evil people smugglers” as if they alone are responsible for refugees seeking an improved existence in our country. That is like blaming the drug problem on the dealers; It's all about demand. And as long as the demand is there, the human race will continue to have a problem. The fact is that if people see no hope and live in fear, they will continue to gamble their lives by making desperate journeys.

In 2017 alone, 70 million people have been forcibly displaced from their homes and 26 million of them are refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18. Western governments, including Australia, have done little to improve the lot of ordinary citizens in these war-torn and impoverished counties; if anything we have been a part of the source of their situation. Europe’s governments have failed to prevent drownings and the horrific abuses, including torture and rape, that are faced by thousands of refugees. Thankfully, there are people out there making a difference in assisting refugees to flee these countries without any monetary motive. Recently 629 African migrants were eventually accepted by Spain after being turned away by Italy and Malta. They arrived on a boat owned and run by an international charity. These good Samaritans would be jailed here in Australia. This approach denies the truth that migration is a human right. Artificially created borders should not circumvent this right.

Pragmatically, these sorts of immigration policies are all about restricting the movement of the poor of the world. People who support these measures are really saying “keep the poor from my door”. While Western governments advocate free trade, the abolition of commercial borders, walls that deny freedom of humanity are stronger than ever. It lacks humanity, empathy and decency. It brings shame to us all.

A world without borders would even be economically beneficial in a global sense. Ending migration controls would increase liberty, reduce global poverty, and accelerate economic growth. Academic studies estimate the gains of open borders being as high as doubling global GDP, as well as the precedent of the 19th century economic boom, which occurred at a time where “most of the world’s borders could be freely crossed without passports”. As economist Alex Tabarraok pointed out in The Atlantic, in moral terms “closed borders are one of the world’s greatest moral failings.” Those giant walls are a human creation, but cause more than just human harm: they hobble the global economy, costing the world roughly half its potential economic product.

Asylum seekers are genuine immigrants, and they are not illegal. They have a right to seek asylum under international law and not be penalised for their mode of entry. They seek asylum due to the consequences of inequality, poverty and war, and are being refused refuge because of baseless fears including overpopulation, an undesirable condition where the number of existing human population exceeds the carrying capacity of the environment, society and economy. Of course, countries like Australia are nowhere near that point, but many others lack the resources to support exponentially increasing numbers of people. Many cities around the world are overpopulated to the point that environmental degradation and increased industrialisation have delivered smog levels that are dangerously toxic. Mexico City and Beijing are just two examples. Scientists have evaluated that 10 billion people is the uppermost population limit of our planet where food is concerned. Because it's extremely unlikely that everyone will agree to stop eating meat, it is likely that the maximum carrying capacity of the Earth based on food resources will most likely be less than 10 billion. The world's current population is 7.6 billion, but is expected to rise to 9.7 billion by 2050. That's when the problem will really become obvious. But the uppermost population for individual areas or countries has, in some cases, been reached or even exceeded already, and we all surely have an obligation to these people.

There is no us and them, just us. And we all live in a finite world with an extremely fragile environment. We can't keep ignoring this and think that “she'll be right”. They won't, and it's inevitable. It's how we accept it and embrace our responsibilities to and for each other we may find a solution, but certainly not the way we are going. We need to care for each other for there to be any hope of long-term sustainability. Simple humanity is the key, because in the end, we are all judged by our values and our subsequent actions.

For me, I am driven by two main philosophies: know more today about the world than I knew yesterday and lessen the suffering of others. ... “ - Unknown

Redspect

Boy

Geoff Mooney