Last week’s European parliament elections saw big gains for right-wing parties across the continent, many trading on policies opposing immigration and the European Union itself.
I worry for those of you that cast your vote against immigration regardless of the other policies of the party you voted for. I worry that fear is used to sway your vote, that media sensationalism destroys proper discourse, that the truth is the first casualty of an election campaign, and that our country is steered by narrow-mindedness.
And because I worry, I wrote you a letter.
To all those who vote out of fear of immigration,
You vote for a system that is outdated and artificial.
Ten thousand years ago, humanity lived in tribes, extended family groups perhaps a hundred strong. They were the ideal size for hunter-gatherer groups, because that was the means by which we survived. Those groups had limited understanding of others, and fought often.
Somewhere around then, we discovered how to grow and harvest crops. It changed our species forever. Farms meant we could stop wandering; we could settle down in larger and larger groups. We built towns, cities, empires. These days we call them countries, and if you’re reading this, chances are you live in a pretty good one.
But just like in our tribal days, we squabble and fight with neighbours we don’t understand. We don’t want people from the tribe next door coming and stealing our berries. We go to war with other tribes to claim the best watering holes.
This is what you vote for. Humanity’s past. The artifical constructs we built ourselves under the pretence that our tribe was more important than the others.
But that will end soon.
Maybe not tomorrow. Maybe not in our lifetime. But on the timescale of civilisations, it will be soon.
Just as the technological advancements of farming and construction united tribes into countries, transportation and communication will unite countries.
Advances in farming will allow us to feed the world, and global economics will give us the reason to do so.
Technology will allow us to understand every language; empathy will allow us to understand every culture.
A hundred or a thousand years from now we will not fear immigration, because fear comes from misunderstanding. And we will understand it completely.
We can solve poverty and famine, because we will care for our species on a global scale. We can solve war, because countries will be a relic of our past just as tribes are today.
We can leave our tribal days behind for good, unite our species and reach for the stars as one.
Doesn’t that sound like a pretty good idea?
Don’t vote for the past. Vote for the future.