Our manifesto for an open world

Kreuzberg Berlin (by Etienne Girardet)

If you read the newspapers nowadays, it’s hard to believe humanity is doing better than ever on almost all counts. 30 years ago, the number of people living in extreme poverty was 36% – now it’s 10%. Globally, life expectancy has increased by more than 6 years between 2000 and 2019.

In a relatively short time, humans have taken control of a pretty nice planet by working together. This cooperation has gone into overdrive since traveling to another country and communicating with another person on the other side of the planet became a piece of cake. Technology has made it possible to set up and manage institutions where countries and real people work together to make the world an even better place.

Now that the economy isn’t doing so well, politicians have found out again that they can gain more power by instilling fear of other countries, cultures, and supra-national institutions. Or maybe they are genuinely scared; I don’t know.

52% of voters in the 2016 Brexit referendum voted to leave the EU because they were promised “their country back”. In that year, Donald Trump became president of the most powerful country in the world with an agenda meant to make people afraid of other countries and in particular people with a Muslim background. Nationalist parties have lost a little steam in Europe, but are more part of the establishment than they’ve been for a very long time. In 2019, some of the biggest parties formed a new alliance in the European Parliament – the 5th largest bloc with about 10% of all seats.

The COVID-19 crisis has given nationalists and frightened people a reason to put pressure on governments to isolate their countries and try to stop the free movement of people.

But as technology continues to evolve and people increasingly move to other countries, globalization will inevitably continue. “Taking back control” of a country and its culture is an interesting concept in theory, but I think it’s an illusion.

Globalization has its downsides, but I’m convinced the force of globalization will continue to make the world a better place for more people, as it has done in the last century. I’m sure we could stop it for a while, but would we really want to live in the police states that we would need to accomplish this? I personally don’t.

Why does it seem more people are growing scared of people with different cultural backgrounds? My theory: the world is changing too fast for most people. And I can understand that. Even though most people know that globalization makes us all richer and safer, opening up your country and having to share more of your wealth with the rest of the world can seem scary.

So what can we do as ordinary citizens?

First of all: try to accept that the world is becoming more globalized. Don’t let fear guide you, but believe in the inherent goodness of people (read Human kind if you’re not convinced).

And keep traveling and experiencing other cultures! The people who warn you about visiting a certain country are usually the people who haven’t been there. Go somewhere you’re a little bit nervous about and try to experience a destination from the perspective of a local. Once you’ve visited, you will find out it’s so different from what you saw on TV or read in the newspapers. Real people like you live there too.

Talk to locals you meet, and read a book about the history of the country you visit. Try to understand why the people you meet in other countries have different customs and beliefs than you do. You probably won’t notice, but you will change yourself and the people around you!

Last Changed Date: 2016-05-19 11:45:13 +0200 (Thu, 19 May 2016)