Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Immigrants – Why I chose not to be one.

I am one of the very few people who opted not to become a citizen of the numerous countries I was privileged to live and study in.

My mother, a Norwegian immigrant, was always puzzled as to why, I, her daughter, would get up and walk away every time the topic of “changing my citizenship to that of a Norwegian” would come up.

The idea of changing one’s citizenship and to be labeled as an immigrant just so that one can live, study and work in a western country in my opinion is absurd. I lived, studied and worked in a lot of countries and I did all that legally on a student visa as well as a resident visa. And the beauty of it is that I never changed my citizenship, and I came back to the country I was born to and used the knowledge, which I gained while living in those countries, to contribute to the welfare of my country and my people. I think of all those people who abandoned their country and left it for better employment and a better life. All I can say to them is,” come back and spent a few years in your land of birth and invest some of your time, knowledge and the skills you have gained throughout the years to help your people and your country. For that is the greatest gift which you can give to the land and the people who gave you life.

There are some Americans and Europeans who view the overwhelming entry of legal and illegal immigrants and refugees throughout the years into their countries have been the cause to the rise of terrorism. Do you blame them for thinking this way? I know I don’t. After all, most of these immigrants and refugees do come from terrorist countries.

I know a few Americans who have repeatedly blamed Congress for getting rid of the National Origin Act of 1924 and the Asiatic Barred Zone of 1917 in 1965. These Americans, who are my friends, feel that Congress’s decision has cost their country and people dearly. Their country has become susceptible to terrorist attacks and their traditional American way of life is disintegrating.

For those of you want to know what the National Origin Act of 1924 and the Asiatic Barred Zone of 1917 is, here it is:

The National Origin Act was established “to confine immigration as much as possible to western and northern European stock”.

The Asiatic Barred Zone was created “to exclude all persons from Asia”.

I don’t know if you agree with everything I have written. If you do, then you, like me, are concerned for not only the country which is rightly yours by birth, but also for the damage most immigrants are doing to themselves and us by living in countries where they are not welcome and do not belong.



Blogger Haren said...

I agree with the main point you are trying to make which I think is the fact that we have a debt of duty to do our bit for those who have contributed to making us who we are. most of the stakeholders of our lives are naturally in our “home country” and therefore that is where most of our efforts should be focussed.
From the first day I flew beyond the shores of home for my higher studies, I always wanted to come back. Home was there my heart was, and the affiliation I had to the land and the people was always unbreakable and it still is. Even though I went to a private school, for 14 years in school, I used “free” text books which were paid for by the people of Sri Lanka and I owe it to them to use the knowledge and experience I have gained to improve their lives. It was not a commercial contract – but an emotional bond.
Today, my thoughts are within that same “frame” – only the frame itself, I think, borders a bigger picture. I no longer think of myself as confined by the geographical area of a “nation”. I am not suggesting that “serving Sri Lanka” and “serving the world” are the same thing – I see a distinct difference and acknowledge that my duty is to the people of the tear-drop island that many call ‘paradise’. But I would be a hypocrite if I claim that my call of duty is only to them. I have borrowed knowledge and experiences from people of many dozed nationalities; I have borrowed “life” itself from the smiles of people from over a hundred nationalities. Do I now owe them too?
Ultimately, he decision of where I would settle down is most likely to be made by factors not limited to my personal preferences but also including the future prospects for an enriching life in every aspect. For some, like you and me, perhaps its part of the “personal enrichment and satisfaction” factor to serve “our country” in turn, but I have seen others who do not feel that way.
I have experienced racism here. That was horrific. But when I think about it objectively, people here treat me with much more respect and dignity – for example at a government department or a post office – than I have generally experienced among those whom I proudly call “my own”. No – I am not planning revenge because I understand that none of it is personal, but it is interesting to notice. The fact is that a part of me is bound to each and every person in Sri Lanka by a shared cultural and social experience… by a common history which is the corner-stone of my identity as an individual… by common thoughts and ideas – for the way we think and our very thoughts are linked to the language we speak and the words we use… and mostly by the people we love and those who love us.
I feel however, that the moment someone leaves the borders of his or her country is the moment he or she becomes a citizen of the world – we don’t have a choice about it. Some of us embrace it at the cost of disowning the identity of who they are (I have seen that life can be difficult if you don’t have a clear understanding about who you are). Yet others engage themselves in a never ending battle to preserve the image of a snapshot of their identity throughout the ever changing ‘movie’ of their lives. But thankfully, I think most chose a path in between.
But as for those who are worried that terrorism and erosion of national identity is a result of a country’s immigration policy, perhaps need to worry more about the death of free thought. I have not met anyone who can define the ‘identity’ of a family of three – let alone that of a nation. Ideas such as “national identity” and “national security” are purely political inventions to confine people and their thoughts. The president has dozens of commandos to provide him security and there’s still a chance that someone could breach even that level of security. How can anyone even talk about securing a nation – especially when we have to ‘save it from ourselves’?
Here are some discussions about the melting pot of “culture + immigration + government”.

9:52 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Japanese Fabric Items
Authentic traditional items meet today's lifestyles.
Japanese fabric pillows, bears, furoshiki and tenugui items.

Click Here