Monday, March 18, 2024

Other Worlds Are Possible - Joss Sheldon begins... Freedom: The Case for Open Borders



This book fills the void which was created by the shift towards authoritarianism--to share the ideas which are missing from the mainstream narrative--making the case for free movement. I want to arm you with the information you’ll need to challenge the anti-freedom agenda. So that when someone repeats a Trumpian falsehood--these ideas that “Immigrants take our jobs,” or that “They’re not like us”--you can respond with the facts that debunk their lies. 
I want to help you to challenge the politics of fear and hatred, so that we may usher in  new politics based on the humanity we all hold in common, no matter where we were born. 

Does that sound crazy? Perhaps it does! But let’s not forget that this narrowing of the political spectrum has been a relatively recent occurrence. Politicians were willing to extend a warm welcome to their international guests, in the not-too-distant past. Do you recall the George Washington quote at the beginning of this chapter? When he said the USA was open to strangers from “All nations and religions”? Well, that kind of statement used to be the norm. Harry Truman won the 1948 presidential election, after promising to overturn controls on migration. He later stated: “We do not need to be ‘Protected’ against immigrants… On the contrary, we want to stretch out a helping hand, to save those who have managed to flee (from the USSR)… To welcome and restore them.” (Volner, 2019). John F Kennedy once said: “Immigrants have enriched and strengthened the fabric of American life.” He also declared: “We are a nation of immigrants.” And Barack Obama echoed his predecessor, when he stated: “We are and always will be a nation of immigrants.” 
But it wasn’t only Democrats who used to speak in such a manner. Take these quotes from the three Republican presidents who preceded Donald Trump, beginning with Ronald Reagan, who said this in 1980: “(Rather than) talking about putting up a fence, why don’t we work out some recognition of our mutual problems, make it possible for them to come here legally with a work permit, and then, while they’re working and earning here, they pay taxes.” Reagan’s successor, George Bush Senior, reminded the nation that the USA was built by immigrants, when he said this in 1990: “Our nation is the enduring dream of every immigrant who ever set foot on these shores, and the millions still struggling to be free. This nation, this idea called America, was and always will be a new world--our new world.” And Bush’s son, George Junior, extolled the immigrant work ethic, while speaking in 2004: “As a Texan, I have known many immigrant families, mainly from Mexico, and I’ve seen what they add to our country. They bring to America the values of faith in God, love of family, hard work, and self-reliance--the values that made us a great nation.” George W. Bush also admitted that, “Nearly all Americans have ancestors who braved the oceans--liberty-loving risk takers in search of an ideal... Immigration is not just a link to America’s past--it’s also a bridge to America’s future.” (Ortiz, 2016).
If these Republican politicians, who certainly weren’t a bunch of “bleeding heart liberals,” could’ve spoken so glowingly about immigration in the recent past, then they should be able to do so again in the future. You never know: This book might swing them back in the right direction!
I suppose I have skin in the game… I was born in Barnet – a fairly anonymous suburb on London’s outermost fringe. My father grew up in the area. But my mother moved around a little--she grew up in Oxford, went to study in Liverpool, and headed down to London when she began her career. My grand-parents were also born in England. So, it’d be easy for me to consider myself British through-and-through. My family speak English with an English accent. We eat fish and chips, go to football matches, and whinge about the weather. I’ve never heard any of my relatives refer to themselves as “immigrants”. In reality, all eight of my great-grandparents moved to England from Eastern Europe, between the two World Wars--fleeing from antisemitism. If they hadn’t made that journey, they might’ve been murdered by the Nazis. I wouldn’t be here today, writing this book. How many other lives were saved, thanks to similar journeys? And how many of the six million Jews who were slaughtered, would’ve been saved had there been open borders, providing them with a passageway to safety? It’s sobering to think. But free movement, for me, isn’t something that’s limited to the dark annals of history. It’d be fair to say that without international travel, you wouldn’t be reading this book for a second, entirely different reason… In December 2012, I left my job at Northampton Town Football Club. I was determined to write and release my debut novel. But I only had a few thousand pounds in the bank. Would that money have sufficed, had I remained in England? No way! I’d have spent it in a few months, whilst I was only a fraction of the way through the first draft, and I’d have been forced to get another job to pay the bills. Perhaps I could’ve written part-time. But that book, Involution & Evolution,  took almost two years to complete. Distracted by a job, and by fatigue, it would’ve taken even longer. Given that it was a bit of a flop, I’d have probably lacked the motivation to keep writing. The chances are that I wouldn’t have made it to book number eight, and you wouldn’t be reading it today. So, what happened? 
Well, I “moved,” of course. I put the word in quotation marks, because I didn’t take up permanent residence abroad. I was more of a nomad. I went to India--one of the cheapest countries on the planet. I rented a rather basic room, for around £70 a month. I washed my clothes by hand, on the floor beneath the shower. I cooked porridge in a kettle for breakfast, and ate my other meals at the cheapest restaurants. All in all, I survived on about £5 a day. Even when you add in the cost of flights and visas, it’s not hard to see how I made my money last for around eighteen months, enough time to complete the first two drafts of my novel. Moving to another country, helped me to launch my new career. It also helped me to put down roots… 
Even as a relatively successful author, there was no way I could’ve bought a house back in Barnet. According to Right Move, the average property in my hometown sold for £891,938 (in 2022). The average apartment cost £509,664. At the same time, according to Words Rated, the average indie author was only making a thousand dollars a year. You do the math! So, what did I do? I wrote my first two books in India and Nepal, before writing my third--The Little Voice  while house-sitting for friends in Spain. When that began to sell, I treated myself. I wrote my fourth novel, Money Power Love, in the food-lovers paradise of Thailand. It was there that I met my (now) wife. We moved to the Philippines and then to Bulgaria, where we bought a three-bedroom house on the edge of the Pirin National Park. With beautiful mountain views, that little slice of paradise was a short drive away from a ski resort and an assortment of hot springs. It cost me around £30,000 – the sort of price that a moderately successful indie author could afford to pay. 
After a few years, my wife began to miss the land of her birth--the Philippines. I could tell that she’d be happier if we returned to that island nation. So here we are today. We’ve bought a little under two hectares of land, for about £25,000, and a team of builders are erecting our home as I type--replete with a well, water-filtration system, solar panels and wind turbine. We plan to grow our food, live off-grid, and be fairly self-sufficient. It's not the sort of life everyone would wish for themselves, and it certainly has its downsides. But it’s the life we’ve chosen. And there’s no way we could’ve afforded it back in Britain. We had to move, to enjoy this lifestyle. We’ve been incredibly fortunate, to be able to do such a thing. The British passport is a powerful tool--it makes it easy for Brits to relocate. 
But still, there’s a part of me that feels conflicted. I feel like a spoilt brat, hopping from one place to the next, whilst other people are forced to remain where they are, and accept circumstances which were imposed upon them at birth. There’s one rule for one group of people, and another rule for everyone else. That’s not right, it’s not just, and it’s not fair.
Everyone has a story. They tend to be fairly unique. And the nuance is often lost. We rarely hear about those people who move abroad to enjoy a cheaper cost of living. We seldom speak about those people who move for the sake of a homesick spouse. Have you ever come across anyone else who moved from Britain to India, to launch a career as an author? Discussions about migration tend to focus on the negatives. 
But not everyone who moves is a victim--a “refugee,” an “asylum seeker,” or an impoverished “economic migrant.” People relocate for thousands of reasons--most of which we never stop to consider--most of which are positive and beautiful. People move to study, retire, or make a fresh start--to experience different cultures, climates and lifestyles. It’s true that some of us only make single journeys--emigrating from one place, and immigrating into another. But plenty of “returnees” do head back in the other direction. Other people are more nomadic. Some move around their regions, whilst others traverse the globe. They might settle down for a few weeks, a few years, or a few decades. 
Whatever the case, one fact remains: No-one chooses the place where they were born. It’s a lottery. You might be fortunate. You might be born in the perfect nation for you--one with all the opportunities you’ll need to become the best version of yourself. Then again, you might not. It seems inherently unjust to trap people in particular lands, simply because they were born there, when they could attain self-fulfilment elsewhere. It’s also a historic anomaly… 

Beginning with the reality of what immigration has come to mean in the world is so very difficult... In America, Russia, and, through one man, even Israel, it has become a purely political matter where one party is willing to harm these people... purely to gain  power! In fact, within or without the United States, we have seen what is happening when those who are known for authoritarian domains, wars have sprung up, people are dying...

Let's be specific... Putin has initiated a war against the freedom enjoyed in Ukraine... Netanyahu had been under investigation when Hamas attacked, but he has now used his authoritarian ways to keep a war going in Gaza that has already been declared inhumane and criticized across the world. The leader of Iran, 
Ali Khamenei funded Hamas and other terrorist groups who are now attacking ships in the area, and more...

It is quite clear to me, at least, and many others that if the past president of America would be reinstalled as president, it would be a total destruction of our lives as Trump has clearly stated that he would be a dictator on day 1 if elected and would then work with other dictators to rule supreme...

While I hold confidence this will not happen, nevertheless, many now live in fear, which includes, fear of those who see the United States as a safe haven. And hundreds have already come from another dictator's country, China, because of the move toward even more suppression in all ways.

ALL OVER THE WORLD, PEOPLE ARE CRYING OUT TO BE FREE! I believe this book is not only an excellent treatise of just how much people desire--and--deserve to live free. All over the world!

After his introduction related to the political climate, Sheldon immediately moves into a comprehensive research review of historical account of how people lived. As I read, I began to sink further and further into the beauty, the awareness, the reality of living free. This, to me, is what God intends for all. And, for America, as guaranteed to us in our Constitution. And, then, I realized even more just how one leader of a bordered country can quickly, or slowly, remove each and every freedom... just by demanding "borders" around a perceived ownership of property!
Homo sapiens have been moving about, establishing homes in various locations, for at least eighty thousand years. Earlier humans, such as Homo habilis, were wandering the Earth around two million years ago!

In America most of us now have the luxury to move within the country at will... until recently. Many of us know that historically those from another world first came to America, seeing it "mostly" free of people and decided that the land was up for grabs... Many of those who were presently living on this land, who had moved from place to place, to hunt, to move for climate improvement, or to establish a home place soon learned that immigrants coming to their land were not interested in their nomadic moves based upon living in the best possible climate at any given time... Soon, it resulted in violence, murder and...theft...

Sheldon points out that we all have some need to move, to go to places different than where we were born. In fact, he begins to give statistics of movement of people from location to location. Specifically, unless you live in Africa where you were born, all of us are immigrants in the land of the free! 

Thus begins the History of Movement

“And what is a border, if not a story? It is never simply a line, a marker, a wall, an edge. First, it’s an idea. An idea that is then presented as a reality. It doesn’t just exist in the world. It can only ever be made. It can only ever be told.” --James Crawford
Boom! No, that doesn’t do it justice. BOOM! No, that doesn’t even come close. The universe didn’t begin with a big bang. It began with a massive bang. The sort of explosion that’s impossible to conceive. A melee of gamma rays, heat and light. This massive bang dispersed all the physical matter that’s ever existed, at more than a billion kilometres per hour. That matter would go on to form stars, planets, trees, animals and humans--but it would never stop moving. Every gram of matter that exists today, has been in constant motion for 13.8 billion years--travelling away from the site of the big bang. Our galaxy, the Milky Way, is no exception: It travels 2.1 million kilometres every single hour. Planet Earth is also beholden by this rule of constant motion. It’s orbiting the sun--travelling 107 million kilometres in an hour. Our solar system is also moving around the Milky Way. 
And there’s more: That’s because the Earth is rotating on its axis. If you’re standing on the equator, you’ll be travelling 1,600 kilometres each hour, thanks to this phenomenon alone. All this means one thing: You’re migrating right now. It might not seem that way. You might be very comfortable, relaxing on a sofa, sipping a cup of cocoa. Everything might feel pretty stable. But in reality, you’re whizzing through space at a mind-boggling velocity. You’ve never been where you are at this moment, and you’ll never be there again. This has always been the case. The history of the universe, is a history of continuous travel through space. (Fraknoi, 2007).

Reading this book instilled a sure knowledge that freedom is precious--precious enough that we must fight to keep, or obtain, it! Now when it is so apparent in so many ways across our world, take the time to learn how and why voting is just one of the ways we can be free...

Next: This is My Father's World!

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