Sunday, 3 November 2013

"Go Home."

Home. It is an interesting concept. Home can be a house where one grew up, a community, a city, a country. Some people know home as the one place throughout their lives where they can return for comfort and healing. Some people, like me, know many different homes, each particular to its place and time, but none the less comforting.

I have lived in various countries throughout my life, and I have always loved the enriching experience of travelling, of immersing oneself in a new culture. It's almost like being born again into each new life.
However, as I grow older, I have begun feeling hurt at expressions of negativity towards immigrants.
I have always migrated legally, and my family has always moved from one country to another for generations, so we have family in many countries. These facts deeply affected me in two profound ways. The first, I do not have an ounce of nationalism. I always viewed the whole world as my community, growing up surrounded by people who themselves had not lived their entire lives in one place. For me, other countries are homes in the making, and for the longest time I could not imagine how one could live their entire life in one country without getting bored, without itching to explore more.
The second, I never really considered myself an "immigrant". In most of the countries I've lived, I have ancestors and living relatives. My family's everyday activities are a mix of cultural traditions from various places, so although I've always had a few quirks, I was never easy to identify as a specific foreigner. I made by wearing my "weirdness" as a "cool".

But time passes and experiences accumulate, and these days I feel hurt if I read a phrase such as "go home" or the awful, awful "go back to your country".
The idea of one having a country is pretty strange to me. How can one own something just from being born, or be doomed to live in war and strife for the same reason? What if one is like me, a dual-nationality person who has lived in various countries for a few years at a time? Which country is -my- country?
It may be naive but I believe the world belongs to all of us. I understand that this is not practically possible in the current societies we live, but I don't accept that this gives us an excuse to treat others as if they're worth less, as if their mere presence is an offense. No one is offensive just for existing on a particular place.

I also don't understand how far back one looks into one's ancestry in order to know whether one has a right to be in a country or not. The whole Israel-Palestine is just the most famous current expression of the long process of country ownership claims. Really, each race and tribe and culture has owned different lands at different times and by now, with how much historical knowledge we have accumulated, we should know better.
I am willing to concede that only simple-minded people and those who have yet to catch up with the modern views of the majority would utter such nonsense, but to do so would require evidence from the general population that they find this behavior unacceptable. The evidence is not conclusive yet.

I guess the issues involved in this discussion are simply too complicated to fit into this blog, but I want to say this: try to understand me. When I live here and you tell me, "go back to your country!", I honestly do not know what you mean. I live here, I work here, I am part of this community and I contribute to it, so I don't see why this country is not mine. If one is reminded all the time that in this place one is a tenant and not an owner, should you then be surprised to find that the tenants hold no sense of duty or responsibility for the country? That they care little for it's fate? After all, the tenant can always move to another home and it is the owner who is ultimately responsible.
The way I see it, all of us who live and work in a land are responsible to maintain it, and by our shared experiences naturally form bonds to the community and the landscape which becomes our home. There is no need to break this sentiment with divisive comments.

Besides, just because a person was born in one country doesn't mean they consider that country their home. Home is that place where one grew and became a person, a place one holds dear, the people one holds dear. Don't tell foreigners to go home, they might already be there.

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