Wicked Problems: Bringing Wisdom and Compassion to Immigration

Magdalena SmieszekCognitive, Ethical, Ethics, How should we relate to the social justice movement?, Integral Justice Warrior, Moral, Perspectives, Politics, Video, World Affairs 32 Comments

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“Once again, ‘unitas multiplex’ is still the best motto: universal deep features, but culturally relative surface features, are what we find in the growth to goodness.”Ken Wilber, One Taste

Immigration matters have been viewed by many as a “wicked problem” — implying a complexity that has sets of values in tension, something societies have dealt with since the very dawn of civilization itself. Human beings are by their very nature a migratory species, having colonized almost every major land mass on the planet and competed over the scarce resources provided by our local environments and social systems.

And yet, over that long and usually violent history, migration has been a powerful force in the unfolding of the human spirit. The ongoing exchange of ideas, values, identities, traditions, and worldviews has generated new forms of art, literature, engineering, science, and mathematics, while also deepening our empathy and understanding of each other, and of the human condition as a whole.

While the challenges and benefits of migration have been with us since the very beginning, in today’s world the problems have become even more wickedly complex. We are now seeing an entirely new set of pressures and life conditions weighing down on us, as things like climate change create additional drivers of forced migration at a time when the nation-state has become our primary source of identity, governance, and distribution of scarce resources, when social and institutional trust is at an all-time low, and when the boundaries between people feel more opaque than ever.

There are competing views in all this, that too many or not enough immigrants is unwise, while too few is uncompassionate, and in the ways migration impacts the economy and social life. So how do we find a more integral approach to immigration, one that:

a) is based on worldcentric values, ethics, and moral reasoning
b) respects the humanity, needs, agency, identities, and dignity of migrants (or the “other”, wherever we find it)
c) respects the agency, identities, and resources of citizens and understands their threat perceptions,
d) respects and includes ethnic differences without falling into ethnocentric thinking?

Watch as Magdalena, Mark, and Corey offer their own ideas and reflect on the reasons this issue has become one of the central fault lines in the culture wars. Topics include:

0:00 — Republic of the heart: remembering Terry Patten
10:25 — The “wicked problem” of immigration tensions
15:34 — The false choice between isolationism and “open borders”
17:59 — Include the values, negate the views
21:27 — Nation-state identities
23:24 — Borders: where identity and threat perception meet
28:05 — Direct causation vs. systemic causation
30:10 — Barack Obama’s border wall
33:40 — “Desirables” and “undesirables”
39:16 — Cultural compatibility and healthy pluralism
43:47 — The problem of scarcity
47:34 — Rising immigration patterns in the U.S.
50:35 — Calling out the tropes: Islam and welfare
55:52 — The development of identity
57:27 — How social media is making ethnocentrists of us all
1:03:15 — How should integral standards be enforced?
1:08:20 — How international diplomacy can help
1:11:37 — Regulating the transnational economic holon
1:15:40 — Moving beyond the nation-state
1:22:01 — The neoliberal bias: extrinsic vs. intrinsic value
1:23:36 — Developmental diversity: wisdom and compassion
1:25:08 — The Canadian border wall
1:26:03 — The cruelty is the point
1:31:44 — Equal opportunities and more equitable inequities

Let us know what you think in the comments below!

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Written and produced by Corey deVos

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Magdalena Smieszek

About Magdalena Smieszek

Magdalena Smieszek is an international lawyer, human rights advocate, scholar and educator, having worked over twenty years around the world with humanitarian and development-focused organizations, including a decade with the United Nations.

Mark Fischler

About Mark Fischler

Mark Fischler is a Professor of Criminal justice and current program coordinator for the criminal justice and criminology programs at Plymouth State University. Prior to joining the Plymouth State faculty, he practiced law, representing poor criminal defendants for the New Hampshire Public Defender’s Office. Mark has worked extensively with alternative theoretical models in law, constitutional law, and higher education, and has published on integral applications to teaching, being a lawyer, and legal theory. His focus in the classroom is ethics and criminal procedure, and is well respected for a teaching philosophy that emphasizes recognizing the humanity and dignity of each student. Professor Fischler was awarded the outstanding teaching award at his university in 2014. He currently offers a weekly Spiritual Inquiry class through Satya Yoga Studio.

Corey deVos

About Corey deVos

Corey W. deVos is editor and producer of Integral Life. He has worked for Integral Institute/Integal Life since Spring of 2003, and has been a student of integral theory and practice since 1996. Corey is also a professional woodworker, and many of his artworks can be found in his VisionLogix art gallery.