Lovescaping the EU refugee situation
Meet my wonderful friend, Himanshu Sharma. Through this post he so eloquently and beautifully contributes to the Lovescaping and Dreamscaping movement in a way that leaves me speechless. Hima, thank you for your unconditional love and support, always.
Lovescaping the EU refugee situation
by Himanshu Sharma
I admit to a certain level of illiteracy when it comes to the notion of Dreamscaping and Lovescaping. Upon getting an opportunity to submit a blog post worthy of standing with musings of my very dear friend and inspiration, Irene, I have put in the most minimum of efforts to understand the concepts, and boiled it down to basically a framing of the world from the most flattering perspective (for humanity) possible.
In concrete terms, “love as a force for positive change in the world, love as panacea for the problems that plague the world”. Which all sounds terrific, but is it realistic? Are the socio-economic fabrics of our lives conducive to kindness and sharing? Does being a Lovescaper make sense when thinking about real-life policy challenges?
As a student of public and economic policy, I couldn’t think beyond the current migrant crisis engulfing Europe when thinking about this possible dilemma. From a Lovescaper standpoint. Europe should open its arms to the refugees pouring across its porous borders. Love is the answer. Living in Munich at the moment, I’m right in the thick of it, witnessing incredible scenes at the main station, and hearing countless discussions about what this crisis portends. For an overview to the numbers involved, Ms.Pattanaik from Reuters has a very good breakdown here.
For every person who thinks the EU nations should shelter the masses fleeing war, there’s a cynic who feels that letting in people from a foreign culture and faith would endanger the common “Christian values” of the EU. Sometimes, this argument is also embellished with claims that integration is too costly and known to fail. So, can Lovescaping be applied to a real world policy problem? Would it make sense to let the people fleeing war and death settle in the EU? Will the integration costs be worth it? Essentially, is love the answer?
As it turns out, Love indeed makes sense. The costs might be huge, but the EU is an economic heavyweight, and with the stalling productivity growth and worsening demographic situation, the influx of young, educated refugees can be quite beneficial. For a start, the people fearing that native populations will be “drowned” by a tsunami of refugees, some perspective is needed. Turkey is hosting around 4 million Syrians at present, which is 2.5 per cent of the Turkish population. Jordan is home to a refugee population around 10 per cent of its own population, and Lebanon’s refugee numbers are at about 25 per cent of its population. The EU proposal for refugee relocation at the moment would add one-third of one-thousandth to the current EU population. And if economic projections are correct, the EU is going to require an extra 42 million people by 2020, and 257 million by 2060 to keep the current ration of over-65s to the economically active 15-64 age group. This ratio is vital to future economic health and growth prospects, and increased migration of young and qualified people should be met with relief and compassion, not contempt and xenophobia.
Research points to positive effects on wages of native workers and overall employment as a result of increased migrant populations. Furthermore, research shows that legalized migrants are unlikelier to engage in criminal activities than illegal ones. People who have braved stormy waters and mortal dangers and have the tenacity and smarts to travel thousands of miles can be valuable additions to the socioeconomic machinery of a rich, but economically stagnant and aging EU.
Love and kindness are indeed the solutions to what is actually not a crisis, but an opportunity for the EU to stay competitive and economically vibrant. Far from being a simplistic view of the world from a perennial glass half-full perspective, lovescaping can be a valuable foundation for introspection and fact-finding when thinking about policy challenges. And from asking whether EU policymakers can afford to be Lovescapers, the question I would ask now is whether they can afford not to.