For most of my life, I have lived in the migration process. I was a refugee, illegal and legal immigrant, and each status taught me a lot about this goal’s importance. Each condition gave me a unique perspective into values different societies cherish, hierarchies that sustain their social structures, and communicative paths that organize the mobility within these structures. However, one lesson is common to all these experiences: the perspective guides equality.
The experience of social equality is very different when you are a refugee, illegal or legal immigrant. The decisions you make are limited to the available choices. And the choices you have are limited to the social status within the hierarchy and the communicative pathways that are accessible.
As a refugee, my perspective was narrowed by securing the basic human needs. It is all about today. It’s like surviving from the sinking ship and floating in the lifeboat in the middle of the ocean. Knowing that you can’t go back. Not knowing how far is it to the nearest shore, if you’ll have enough strength to make it there and what that shore might bring. The only thought that goes beyond having food, shelter, and clothing is not being where you are.
As an illegal immigrant, my perspective was constrained by the paste of legal administrative procedures. It was a long, frustrating cycle of picking myself up after the negative replies, going back to square one, and starting all over again. In the meantime, the choices I had were limited to the options discarded by the legal residents.
As a legal immigrant, my perspective started to widen up. Although constrained by the heavy burden of the path taken, I was happy to see the end of the tunnel. It felt nice seeing the light again, feeling the warmth of weekends off, and making plans for months ahead. While living as a refugee and illegal immigrant my dream was to get to that highway. However, once the initial euphoria of moving forward was over, I’ve realized that the tunnel end was a tree line highway closed-loop heading from one tunnel to another. It was the life inside the hamster wheel limited to working to pay bills. And me driving in the slow line.
The funny thing was that although those in the fast line were way ahead of me, they, same as me, were still heading into a tunnel. From my slow lane, I got to see a very few shiny mansions on the hill above the tunnel. That’s when I realized that most will never get off the highway. I realized that the traffic was getting worse. There were more and more cars on the highway while there were fewer and shinier mansions on the hill. That’s when I understood that we are all paying a pay toll to those very few that collect the profit.
Unless more cars are exiting the highway, the traffic will jam into a giant crash sooner or later. With more and more cars coming from behind, there will be a total collapse.
The only solution is to build more exits. These exits don’t need to lead to the shiny mansion private compounds. Most of us want decent living conditions of human dignity, healthy relations, and personal growth, where each one can pursue happiness through sense, purpose, and hope. Where each one can decide when and where to exit the highway.
Reducing inequalities is not about expanding the highway by adding more lanes. It is about reducing the traffic by adding more exits. It is about providing more choices within the shared goal of keeping the living conditions within sustainable boundaries. And for those choices to become universal our perspectives have to part from every human being starting from the highway with equal rights for all.