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I am the citizen of the world

Place: A Lithuanian in Greece

 

Migration is a very natural state. It is a big part of evolution. People were moving in order to survive since the Stone Age. It turned into a problem after the birth of nationalism. In the early 19th century when countries started shrinking and creating also called ‘national identity’ a gap between ‘me’ and ‘other’, ‘we’ and ‘them’ widened. These days, the slogan of Socrates “I am the citizen of the world” is widely despised by nationalists. Which is a funny thing, because Nationalism is here only for a few hundred of years but migration, and cosmopolitism exists for thousands. Surely it is much faster and easier to move because of the technological development, and it is also inevitable.

I think the economic/illegal immigrants are facing the most difficult situation. They usually get into a vicious circle of citizen hate and also become scapegoats. For example, for greedy businessmen, illegal workers are much cheaper since you can trick them, by not paying them. Where will they look for justice? Local businessmen benefit a lot from cheap labor, so you think they should be grateful, but this is rarely the case. If there’s a high crime rate in the country – immigrants are usually the ones to blame. But has anyone ever thought that so called citizens use the poor state of illegal immigrants for organized crime? It is a very comfortable situation, if an Afghani, let’s say, is caught selling drugs, no one even bothers to trace the person that provides them. Media doesn’t help either.

Let’s take my home country, Lithuania as an example. Media always emphasizes the nationality of a criminal if it’s a foreigner. So even if the crime page in the newspaper is filled with heavy crimes committed by Lithuanians everyone will remember the “horse stolen by the gypsy”. Asylum seekers or “love immigrants” as I call them are treated better. People pity the ones that suffered war or horrible political regimes. Immigrants with the best status are the ones from economically evolved countries. There are so many nuances in the attitude towards immigration and you can only see them if you had moved to another country yourself.

I am originally from Lithuania, but I have been living in Greece for 3 years now. I could call myself a “ love immigrant”. I moved to Greece because of my boyfriend. I faced a bunch or problems, concerning language, job, socializing and etc. But now I think it is almost nothing compared to what illegal immigrants face living in the outskirts of society, being used, saving money for their families, maybe not having where to live, being looked down on and in the end blamed for all the problems in the country. It is really annoying how other countries picture immigrants from the post sovietcountries. Main stereotypes echo with the soviet ideology – great workers, suitable for physical, manual work, they love it so much, that they will even work for free! If you are a woman it is much more frustrating, cause to many, you are just an Eastern European prostitute. And, of course, we are all Russian, and I wouldn’t mind, I like all the tribes in the world, only if we “Russians” would be treated as well as French or Americans. So my tip to the future emi/immigrants: learn the language of the country you are going to. Languages are fascinating and it will definitely help you fit it, get a better job, find new friends. Don’t try to stick to differences between “your country” and the one you’re into. These are just details, creating dichotomies is one of the biggest problems in the world. We are not all that different; we all come from the same place.

Austeja Banyte

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