Immigration is a core narrative when you think about human history. You had individuals asking questions like “Hey whats happening over there? lets see whats over there?, and then you have people that lose a sense of hope, that are trapped by larger political forces, that destabilized their societies and they risk life and limb to go to peaceful places. Then you have the economic refugee, young and full of pep and wishful thinking, who imagine a better life in another land. In western nations immigrants have become a source of divisiveness. They are afraid that these immigrants represent an existential crisis and with the existence of terrorism its an added problem.
The young Gambian represents something pretty common in Africa, but also very uninformed and the young Gambian is more a victim of smugglers and a pipe dream than anything else. He is under pressure from his family but even worse his idea that life in the west is paradise.
The Journeys themselves are perilous and left me thinking that similarly in the past europeans took these same routes to make sense of the world, they traveled more in search of booty, wealth, adventure and inquisitiveness but all the same they travelled. Today the world is interconnected but in this interconnectedness some have benefitted and some have lost out, and this has led to this confusing trend of humans traveling en-mass to find a livable life in western countries that are feeling overwhelmed. When I watch this I think the biggest winners are smugglers. They make out like bandits and the immigrants leave for an uncertain and unpredictable existence.
But as I have been telling my friends these types of movements are not new. People immigrate and move around for complex reasons and its something that will never end. The only thing thats alarming people in the west is this is coinciding with a so called cultural clash between the west and Islamic east. Often its not that simple and its more geo-politics than anything but people love simple stories. Watching these stories unfold you are looking at human beings all looking for the same thing that the first immigrants that left europe for america in the 19th and early 20th century where looking for. The same thing that mainland spaniard farmers and irish people where looking for when they left for Cuba or Argentina. Its funny, a syrian friend of mine was shocked when I told him of how a lot of europeans immigrated to mexico in the 19th and early 20th century, in his mind only place in the world built on immigration is north america. But the truth is the whole of south america is populated by the descendants who are the by-products of similar stories. Human beings moving back and forth around the world trying to find peace, hope and civil structure that will give peace to people. The way history works is funny and the way this historical narrative still shapes the modern world is sad, funny and tragic all at once.