Well, we’ve been here before, haven’t we?  The refugee crisis, sparked by civil wars, natural disasters, famines and plagues, seems to have been the latest trigger.  The desperation of refugees and their merciless exploiters soon became common knowledge, with the inability of the UN agences and NGO’s to cope with the endless tides not far behind.  The Mediterranean as a watery graveyard came to symbolize the ongoing tragedy.  The earlier notion of the planet’s “trouble spots” became outdated and just about useless.  The wealthier nations opened up their hearts and borders.  Underfunded mercy and compassion became the order of the day, and the sweet taste of the brotherhood of man could be felt in the air.  Love thy neighbour as thyself manifested its beautiful plumage.

Soon enough, however, the pendulum began to swing back and we were confounded by complaints from countries who could not afford the influx and closed their borders.  Stories of local resentments and ethnic strife surfaced.  Public shootings and stabbings by fanatical caliphate devotees, the religious version of racial purity, ransacked the headlines for spikier outrage.

Populist leaders, channeling the culturally conservative backlash to bolster their chances for reelection, ramped up the claims of nation state sovereignty, denouncing multiculturalism as a poison, a threat to national pride and our sacred christian heritage.  Recently Victor Orban of Hungary has been extremely vocal on these fronts, and as his latest outburst coincided with the partial release of the New Zealand shooter’s manifesto, which explicitly cursed the influx of immigrants, insisting that everyone would be better off staying put in their own countries, despite his own extensive world travels, reminded me of the deep psychological resistance to the racial harmony implicit in multiculturalism that repeatedly resonates across our various news feeds on screen or in print.  Identification with tribe, religion and nation is an ancient habit spanning many lifetimes, and while some of us are more than ready to let it all go and be free of that imprisonment, many yet find comfort, reassurance and sustenance in the old, clearly defined separations and are made angry and insecure by the perceived invasions of strangers.  In earlier incarnations, it would have been those from the next valley or neighbouring clan who would have been suspect, now we have progressed to oceans and continents.  The fear and distaste of the other has expanded, but not to breaking point. Not yet.

The process of racial integration around the planet manifests in various ways, refugees being but one.  Another, not so often remarked upon, is the steep growth in tourism.  More countries, specifically India, Brazil and China, have burgeoning middle classes aching to spend that disposable income on foreign travel, resulting on more and more occasions of worry and complaint from popular destinations, anywhere from  the likes of Amsterdam and Barcelona to the Pyramids and Machu Pichu.  Crumbling and overcrowded tourist hotspots are in danger, it would seem, from fencing off the floods that are swamping them with generous profits.  A small point compared to the many refugee camps where life is possible but not particularly pleasant, but a relevant one all the same. Movement across oceans and borders has become a regular adventure for young and old, wealthy and impoverished.  All are escaping: some from a life in hell and others from the humdrum daily grind.  And all are trading in their cuisines and cultures for a cruise in foreign waters.  Some of those cruises are mere ferry rides and others permanent vacations, but all are a taste of the other, the other that is not us. And once you leave the village there is no returning, not really.  Your expansion cannot become contraction.

Those who cannot tolerate the intimate presence of other ethnicities and religions in their neighbourhoods and on their doorstep will continue to resent and rebel, and sometimes, unfortunately, plot their vengeance.  Those of us who pray and meditate can, I believe, soften the edge of their rage with the vibration of love and mercy, but we cannot bring it to a complete halt, as the engines of karma and hate have their own right, as free will options, to exist.  We, who now extend the loving embrace of tolerance were once, many lifetimes past perhaps, paranoid and cruelly judgemental, and cannot, in good conscience, judge those who are currently undergoing that particular stress test.  Debates about the flow of immigration to countries who can absorb the influx will continue to rage, not despite the levels of sympathetic tolerance but because of it.  Spirited debate is the essence of democracy and should always be tolerated as the price of individual freedom, regardless of day to day irritations of opposing viewpoints.

The integration of the races, as we have already discussed in this series, is a multigenerational project, whether determined by those ascended spirits shepherding our evolution or guided and served by enlightened bureaucrats and aid workers inspired by the vision, and will still be finding its planetary feet long after you and I slip this mortal coil and try on eternity for that blessed rest before the next plunge into pollution, lies and patriarchy.

No, no, I make joke.