I have travelled an unusual amount for someone my age. This is mostly due to the fact that I lived in Tokyo for nearly five years in elementary school. Because of our location, my family and I had the opportunity to see places like China, Thailand, Guam, and Cambodia, to name a few. I saw a good portion of Asia before I even turned ten, and my being well-travelled has become instrumental to my personality and beliefs.
When you travel a lot, you see a lot. And sometimes what you see aren't the monuments in front of you. Sometimes you see devastating poverty. Sometimes you see dirty huts and weather beaten faces. It's hard to miss. And when you're confronted with that reality, you realize a lot.
First, you realize that they could have just as easily been you, and vise versa. It's a birth lottery, one that is never just. There's only so many slots of privilege in the world, and you've occupied one of them. But statistically speaking, you should probably be among the tired faces of the people your parents told you not to make eye contact with. You realize life is not fair, and you figure out how to come to terms with it.
Then you realize that if you can project yourself onto these people so easily, then maybe you're not so different after all. It's almost like... you're both human? Your sense of empathy is heightened, because at the end of the day, everyone is working towards the same thing. They just want to be safe and happy. And everyone is doing the best they can with the lottery ticket they were given.
Then when your vacation is over, you get to return to your regular life with running water and electricity and all that jazz. And that's when you learn your third lesson. You have so much to be grateful for. Opportunities are around every corner if you know where to look. And genuinely, it's just because location is everything. And suddenly you can't blame the immigrants everyone is calling 'illegal'. If you were them, you'd want out too. And you can't say with any degree of certainty that you would wait for the opportunity. You might just have to create one yourself, by any means necessary.
Of course, I'm not enlightened enough to have a solution. I don't think I know best by any means. My experiences doesn't make my opinion superior. And I'm not suggesting open borders, nor am I suggesting a wall. I'm definitely not suggesting an immigration ban. All I have is some past experiences that I can't seem to shake. I'm not sure what I would do if I found myself on the streets of Bangkok, fending for myself. I'm not sure if I'd have the same moral code that would drive me to enter a more wealthy country legally. I don't think anyone can say that with confidence. And once we see the 'others' as human too, maybe we can reach a more human solution. Albeit, it is one that I don't have. But I believe we can get there. I believe there is enough opportunity to go around, and hopefully we can work together to move forward.