Why are we secretly afraid of people who are different – whether it’s their culture, race or language? Yes, differences might make us uncomfortable, unsure how to speak or act in their company … but I think what scares us most is not their difference, but the possibility that they might be more like us than what we are willing to admit.

When we are insecure in ourselves, the differences between us and others becomes essential in giving us a sense of identity. It is the differences that makes us unique. And so while we openly draw attention to the differences and consequently the superiority of our own culture and way of life, while we attempt to stir fear by emphasizing the unknown … what we actually fear more is that others might be too much like us. For if my identity is based on my superior difference, then the discovery of likeness will make me, well, … ordinary, even unnecessary.

Only when we find a way out of our own insecurities, our sense of lack and deficiency, will we no longer perceive likeness as rivalry. When we find peace within ourselves, the likeness of others becomes an opportunity for friendship, and their differences an intriguing opportunity to discover even more about ourselves. We find our most authentic selves not in desperately protecting the boundaries of our self-made identities … but in giving ourselves for the benefit of others. Mother Teresa once diagnosed the world’s ills in this way: we’ve just “forgotten that we belong to each other.”

For me this was one of the reasons why the image of the drowned little migrant boy was so powerfully disturbing. The innocence of this child reminded us that we are not just dealing with scary ’different’ people … but with people who might be very much like us. What beautiful courage has been shown by Germany and a few others, to rise above their own fears and insecurities and welcome others as their own.


2 Responses to “The scary thing about immigrants …”

  1. Lee Schwartzrock on

    I find it sad to see how immigrants are denied friendship, and fellowship in the first world countries today. We see them as a source of our economic troubles. We fail to see the real causes of our poverty. We forget that we, or our recent forefathers, were similar immigrants.

    The cause of economic weakness, is due to the failure to give a fair wage to anyone, for a fair day’s work. If you have ample room to house more citizens, welcome immigrants, and pay them well. They will strengthen your economy. Seeing them as a source of inexpensive labor, and paying them less than what we would be willing to do the same work for, is asking for economic weakness. People with income, spend that income, and empower the demand for goods and services. The newcomer isn’t the culprit; he is the victim along with all the existing citizens who are displaced when employers seek to gain at the expense of the newcomer.

    Anyone who gives less in a transaction, than he is receiving, is cutting his own throat. True, he won’t feel the effects for some time, but they will eventually catch up with him. Capitalism can work, but only when the players learn this important rule: If anyone is cheated, all will eventually suffer.

    The current trend of seeking the cheapest labor market, in which to manufacture goods, is foolish beyond words. We seek low prices, but look for a high price for our goods. Low priced goods are the surest way to import our own poverty. The high market is sought as the place to sell the underpriced goods, but this soon destroys the high wage jobs in that marketplace, which created the high market in the first place. You cannot steal from your brother without impoverishing yourself.

    The first-world’s lust for cheap products, and our use of China to get them, lead to a one-way flow of money out of the first-world nations, which could only be supported by borrowing. As the manufacturing jobs were outsourced, they were replaced by construction jobs, as lenders sought to cash in on the ballooning prices in real estate. When you loan money to individuals who do not have good jobs, chances are you are not going to be repaid. It wasn’t long before the housing bubble burst, and the huge debt hanging on the deflating real estate market began to show itself for what it was, a source of wealth that never existed.

    The reality that wealth is simply the production of raw materials times price, is something that few understand. Today we believe a myth that wealth is created by central banks. Well, the central banks have worked their magic, creating wealth out of thin air, and have bought up most of the bad debt. So now we find ourselves atop an unsustainable house of cards that must constantly be propped up every time a new crack shows. When will we learn that you cannot funnel most of the world’s wealth into the coffers of the few, and expect things to motor along smoothly?

    Yes things are going to go south, and it’s all to be blamed on the immigrants. Nope, I place the blame squarely on laissez faire economics. Greed does motivate, but it cannot stop until everything built is also torn down.


Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)