Mass migrations of people from one country to another is now the highest since the close of WWII. As of late, I’ve only needed to keep up with my local news sources to see Syrian and South Sudanese civilians fleeing civil war, displaced Palestinians, and groups chanting “Build that wall” between the US and Mexico that helped propel Donald Trump to victory as president of the United States. This sudden and dramatic influx of foreigners into otherwise stable societal structures has resulted in tensions across society. Anger, possessiveness, demonization – immigrants have unjustly borne the brunt of blame for many of the social ills of host countries.
Spaceship Media is an organization based in Alameda (California, US) that fosters open dialog. Their motto is “Using journalism to bridge divides.” Not to change people’s minds, but to foster a respectful sharing of opinions that hopefully will lead to less polarization and more mutual respect.
Less blaming and more acceptance
Spaceship Media has sponsored projects such as California-Alabama which brought together Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump voters (respectively) following the 2016 US presidential election and Police-Student for law enforcement and secondary school students to meet each other in constructive dialogue.
The premise of Spaceship Media’s latest project, Talking Across Borders, is that progress in a polarized society will only come if the two sides learn how to talk about issues with civility and mutual respect. If the results of the previous projects by Spaceship Media are any indication, their methods of hosting this dialogue will result in a positive, respectful and constructive exchange of ideas and points of view.
A clear and present need
There is sufficient evidence that constructive dialogue is sorely needed. There were twin articles in today’s San Jose Mercury News and Riverside Press-Enterprise, two well-established newspapers in California. One needs to go no further than the online comments sections of these articles to see the urgent need for constructive dialogue. The tenor of the comments runs from hot to hotter, with the general sentiment towards the immigrants being “Get out!” There is no perception of the value of immigrants, no expression of empathy their plight, no outstretched helping hand, no charity, no goodwill.
At BRIL.Solutions, we are sympathetic to the value of newcomers. Our experience with refugees is that there are few harder working, more grateful people than those who have had to flee their country and are welcomed to a safe haven and a chance to apply their knowledge and skills in their host country. Similarly, our experience with immigrants is that they bring new, fresh perspectives to the table, and should be valued for their contribution. We wish Spaceship Media success in their latest project, and hope that those whose mission appears to be the spreading of bile and hate learn to see the world with different eyes.