February 5, 2017
Pumped by mainstream media, protesting has certainly become the fashionable thing to do: carrying signs calling for love and coming together against all evil Trump. But will this really change things for the better? Isn’t this a little too shallow an approach for a serious discussion on immigration to take place?
Let me point this out first: I don’t see eye to eye with either the Democratic or Republican Party. Neither of them represents what I would consider real social stability. But the media atmosphere being created is that anything Trump does is automatically deemed racist, fascist, crazed and unacceptable. In other words, if you love peace, you must hate Trump, right?
If you want to consider a serious look at the immigration ban issue, beyond the media dramas, read on.
Mass Immigration Demands Real Integration
From my perspective on human development, our highest achievement as humanity will be all nations coming together as one family. However, that’s an ideal. And its distance from reality needs to be bridged, not ignored. True integration can only be achieved through a deep and deliberate process of awareness and education that will induce affinity, as well as create common goals and honest mutual concern between people of different cultures. Only then can we expect coexistence to flourish.
The problem with the lofty ideas of liberalism in terms of integrating different cultures is the expectation that major differences in upbringing, ideology, behaviors and thinking patterns, will magically solve themselves. Well, reality—as Europe now knows best—shows us that they don’t. The current trend of idealism calling to merge people of differing cultures, and especially religious ideologies which have become extreme in our times, is certainly dangerous within the US as well.
In nature, the harmonious existence of opposites relies on intricate systems of cooperation and communication that were crafted by evolution for millions of years to become stable and prosperous.
Thinking that pluralism can simply be achieved by leniency, open heartedness and compassion is nothing less than childish. It also requires responsible, gradual processes, careful boundaries and a true assessment of how policies result in reality. Both aspects are necessary to create a middle path that is neither dangerously disconnected from reality, nor too harsh to allow for human connection to evolve.
Merging these opposite approaches, which roughly define the left and right political ideologies, does not come naturally to us. It depends on applying educational methods that teach how this can be done. This holds true for nation states just as it does for the psychological health of couples, parents and every relationship, because our attachment to others needs to coexist with our personal boundaries and individuality.
Back to Trump: he has promised millions of Americans who voted for him to give America its borders back. He has not made up new laws, but has asked the Department of Homeland Security to enforce existing US laws strongly. Strengthening borders is important for the viability of a nation, as well as every other living thing.
In fact, it’s been done by other administrations before his and gone unnoted. In a speech Bill Clinton made as president, he said, “We are a nation of immigrants, but we are also a nation of laws. It is wrong and ultimately self-defeating for a nation of immigrants to permit the kind of abuse of our immigration laws we have seen in recent years, and we must do more to stop them.” Coming from him it was accepted as logical, but from Trump, it’s considered racist and unconstitutional. So what is really driving protesters to the streets? Is it helping Muslims in need or another opportunity to denounce Trump?
We do need to be open for connection with others, but not without proper boundaries. Yes, there needs to be compassion, but this compassion should extend to your own country and people too. Author of the Sulam (Ladder) commentary on The Zohar, Baal HaSulam, writes in The Nation that “those who completely retire from nationalism and become cosmopolitan for humane, altruistic motives are making a fundamental error, since nationalism and humanism are not at all contradictory… national love is the basis of every nation, just as egoism is the basis of all individually existing beings. Without it, it would not be able to exist.”
Even the Dalai Lama, who is widely considered a great humanitarian, said that Muslims should not be allowed to turn European countries into Arab countries. It is not inhumane to place boundaries, or to demand safety precautions; it is the right thing to do. Leniency with open borders is a reckless attitude to future outcomes.
In addition, no one is saying that refugees who are in real danger should not be helped. But it doesn’t need to be at the expense of the social stability of other nations. There is plenty of money and land in Muslim countries, which could supply a much better solution for the millions of refugees. Saudi Arabia for example, has 100,000 air-conditioned tents sitting empty, but still will not take Syrian refugees. International efforts should be made and measures should be taken to secure solutions for Muslims and guarantee their safety, without compromising the security and stability of western nations.
Achieving True Pluralism
Merging different cultures on the same territory is a serious commitment that requires educational preparation from both sides. Just as we don’t expect marriage to happen on the first date, nations must also get to know each other, study each other’s mentality, learn how to get along and only then move in together.
Throughout the world, my students conduct what they have termed “connection circles,” people of different backgrounds, and even those engaged in active conflicts such as Jews and Arabs, learn to complement each other and create a shared reality without compromising their identities. Such practices are crucial to form coexistence that’s based in reality and not just wishful thinking.