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Open Letter to the World

By Rip Ritchie

A letter to the people of the world,

Migration has shaped the global human environment throughout our history.  In the last several hundred years it has been intensifying and is now at a climactic point where the movement of people influences and controls all aspects of the modern world. 

One of the most important things to understand about modern human migration is why it occurs in the places that it does.  Opposed to the outwards movement of people from the industrializing centers in the 19th century, most current migration is happening in the developing countries to countries of high development.  People often assume that migrants are leaving the poorest countries in the world to find a better life, but this is not factual and is not backed by empirical evidence. People in the poorest countries do not even have the resources to migrate.  In reality, most migrants are leaving countries of moderate development and they are going to countries they have existing ties to.  This often translates to old colonial ties or some other political or economic connection such as war.  The reason they are leaving is not for a better life, but because they cannot find employment in their home country.  They are going to work in another country where they can get decent wages.  Usually it is not planned to be a permanent migration but rather a temporary solution to a difficult economic situation.  They are sending remittances home to help their families in bad financial strife. 

All of this movement is presenting a unique complication to the cultural makeup of the world.  As developing countries are aging and reproducing at lower rates, their economies are going to need more and more migrants in order to sustain themselves.  As people migrate to these countries, especially in ever-increasing numbers, it raises issues of national and self-identity.  As people migrate, so do their cultures, ideas and world-views.  It is going to be very interesting to see what happens as people continue to mix and interact in new ways. 

It is important to understand the process that is occurring.  The movement of people is necessary, especially in this day of modern globalization.  You cannot look at these people with any disdain or racist perceptions.  They are where they are because of global economic situations and necessity on both ends of the spectrum. You should help facilitate their arduous journeys and respect them for doing something that you should be glad you don’t have to do.  These people do not want to leave their homes; they only want to help their families and loved ones.    Respect, love and understanding are called for, because people are doing, as they always have, what they must do to survive. 

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