All migrants in timeless migrations

We humans are certainly ambivalent, even absurd, beings. What we perceive as a normal development of our being would certainly surprise any neutral observer of life on earth. An alien life form watching us for centuries would probably be as fascinated as shocked by our human species. What this has to do with “migration” can only be understood by tracing the history of human development.

From the ape to the so-called intelligent mass destroyer.

Humans have experienced an incredible development. After evolving from primates to Homo Sapiens, for six to eight million years, development continued at a slow pace. But then everything happened very quickly. In a short period of time in the history of Planet Earth, just over 40,000 years, man has built stone sculptures, sophisticated tools and finally highly specialized machines. Humanity has gone from caves to huts to simple houses and huge skyscrapers with sophisticated and luxurious devices to feed our insatiable desire for more. If the mobility of our cousins the monkeys was initially only possible on all fours, humans then went off to the moon and now run around the world by car, train, boat or plane. Almost biblically, humanity took possession of the earth and rose far above all animals.

However, we humans, after the club and the spear, have also developed and used weapons of mass destruction; wasted our resources quickly, exacerbated global warming, exterminated animal and plant species faster than we can name them and destroyed millions of hectares of forest every year; we pollute our land with nuclear radiation and chemical toxins; we invented genocide and racism; we exploit each other and continue to invade our own species with war, hatred and violence. The strangest thing about this is that we, as a highly evolved life form, are able to recognize, document, and sometimes even reflect upon all this. Nevertheless, we consider this development and our predicament to be quite normal and we persist in the subliminal belief that humans are the end of the evolutionary process. How would an alien observe our judgments, our actions and our way of developing? Perhaps a “not humanly involved” observer would feel that the moral sense, the social intelligence and the global consciousness of man have not kept pace with the growth and development of his brain.

The alien who, in our hypothesis, would be far removed from our human being, would probably not understand how, after so many millennia, it is still possible for man to preach hatred towards others based on skin colour, or origin, considered different, and why it is so difficult to overcome racism despite advances in knowledge. Even if, on the other hand, it is possible to consider that, in the early stages of human development, the “racist” resentment could be encouraged to paradoxically create dynamics of societal construction and draw a border between “us and them” in the defence of limited resources. But, as a result of a growing collective ignorance, the fear of strangers, and of foreigners in particular, has been transformed over time into rejection, even hatred of others.

After much speculation and reflection, as humans we should have recognized that skin colour, origin or gender have nothing to do with competence, degree of development or moral integrity. So, how is it that humans, with their incredible potential for knowledge, after hundreds of years of progress, still engage in “populist” and other types of acclamations that exacerbate primary resentments? I think we’ve simply hidden our prejudices, fears, and basic instincts under a plethora of rules, social constructs, and explanations that characterize us as “civilized”. Meeting us, the visitor of another galaxy would discover many things but eventually would probably not understand us.

Why are we all migrants?

You don’t need to be an alien to understand that equating different races with different developmental possibilities is not only morally reprehensible, but also scientifically incorrect. We never consider that the country we come from is made up of migration except, possibly, when sociological studies show that one in four individuals has a “migratory past”. Strictly speaking, of course, we are all migrant descendants of migrants.

Therefore, we are invited to use our knowledge and finally to understand where we come from and how we have developed. The country I come from (partly), Germany, is characterized by significant migrations. The millions of workers invited after the Second World War are just one example among many. As a nation-state, Germany has not existed for very long. Before that, a patchwork of kingdoms, duchies and bishoprics had existed for a long time. Those were themselves the result of a development involving many different ethnic groups with very varied cultural backgrounds. At the end of Antiquity, the geographical migration of peoples completely disrupted the population, especially in Europe.

In fact, no matter how long we can trace a family tree, “non-aboriginal” people still belong to the lineage of our ancestors, and the truth is that no one knows exactly what cultural circles, what ethnicities, have shaped a family. It does not matter how much a person is blond with blue eyes; it says nothing about his or her roots. Even the most “nationalist” Europeans are the result of ever renewed mixtures. From a scientific point of view, this mixture is important because it reduces the probability of an incest-related marker. Also, in order to have a broader perception of our humanity, to go beyond our current state, we would have to travel much further in the past.

We humans remain great ignoramuses and, despite all our knowledge, we still seek to distinguish ourselves from one another, to place our respective national identities above those of others. Wherever we are born, whatever lineage we come from, we generally think we are superior to our neighbours or descendants of other cultures. Whether Polynesian, African or Muslim, I still have a sense of superiority over others and the perception I have of him or her. It is easy to feed prejudice, to unilaterally appoint scapegoats when social or societal problems arise. Thus, even today, some of us cannot help but discriminate, denigrate, and even insult those who migrated after their own ancestors, expressing doubts about their social or intellectual abilities. If the other wears a suit and a tie instead of boots and a military uniform, it is not uncommon to see him reduced to a certain vision brought against him and thus to limit him to some very biased truth.

Our super-traveller through space and time might add soberly: the human has learned much but much more has been misunderstood; and those who understand are afraid of their own courage. This is precisely what must be changed: we must leave the cave of our ancestors, especially in terms of tolerance, morality and self-reflection. There is still time to surprise the alien observer with a just and happy display of the possibilities of human development.