So, in my last post I announced my commitment to write a book that will share best practice stories of integration in an attempt to identify a ‘model of integration’ that all people can use as a tool in their homes, playgrounds, social situations, and corporate environments, all over the world.
Big ask and big challenge? Yes. But if I achieve even a little part of this and help a few dozen organisations and people, it will be a job worth doing.
To be clear, my commitment is global mobility, helping campaign for the freedom of people to live and work where they choose, without penalty. I accept this is an unrealistic idea, a whimsical utopian world that is perhaps impossible with our human race. We will always try to control our territory, protect those we love, and fight for our beliefs. Nature and nurture and our fight or flight responses encourage us to seek people that are like us, places that are familiar to call home, and feel comfortable in the knowledge that we have an identity and are where we belong. The human race are pack animals, and there is a survival need for this kind of behaviour.
However, another reality emerges and forces us to wake up to the real world. Some people do not seek comfort in familiarity and instead seek adventure or for some other reason, feel the need to relocate, and perhaps even ‘rebrand’ themselves and create a new identity.
This is unsettling for the rest of us that are faced with these aliens. How do we talk to them? How will they understand me? What if they teach my child to do that? What if they harm me or my family?
These are fears. Some are justified. And some are not. However the most violent and unspeakable crimes often happen when someone positions themselves as a trusted friend, teacher or even family member. Someone like us. I know this from interviewing prisoners at Highpoint prison in Suffolk, England. Here I was a psychology assistant with a naive passion and commitment for rehabilitation. The stories I heard from people, who looked and talked just like me, were certainly not ‘normal’, yet they looked shockingly like the man next door.
So we can’t live in a bubble forever. People will come, and people will go. Some will be sincere and some will not. Will we forever live in fear?
The time has come to address these fears, be honest and open, accept them, and then find healthy ways of overcoming them, together.