Facts, Truth and the Power of Stories

Some selected facts from The Economist Special Report: Migration (November 16, 2019)

  • If everyone who wanted to migrate were able to do so, global GDP would double according to the Centre for Global Development
  • Migrants are far less numerous than news footage suggests – the UN estimates about 3.5% of global population are migrants, barely higher than in 1960.
  • For native-born workers on the whole, the effect of migration on wages is largely positive.
  • There are more rural-to-urban migrants in China than there are cross-border migrants in the world.

If there are so many positive arguments in favour of progressive and humanitarian migration policies, why do we see such resistance?

Columnist David Brooks (https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/07/opinion/trump-immigration.html) suggests that “only people who are securely rooted in their own particularity are confident enough to enjoy the encounter with difference.”  This reinforces the idea that when working with leadership and with diversity, we need to start with ourselves. Diversity is not so much about “those other people who are different”, as it is about our own responses to others.

Brooks continues by saying that we have the capacity to see society not as “a competition for scarce resources, but as a joint voyage of discovery in search of life’s biggest answers.” but that we must equally hold and know the value of our own culture and tradition. The positives come from both unity and diversity, from both conserving and progressing.

What gets in the way? Fear – particularly fear of the other. A telling piece from Tobin Smith (https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/22/opinion/vindman-fox-news-.html) describes how narratives can be used for “mass emotional manipulation”, citing a report in Nature that “we find information or misinformation “22 times more memorable in narrative form.“We know one of the most powerful tools for making positive connections across lines of difference is to share stories – in this way we can create, to paraphrase Brooks, a generous multiculturalism. Tobin Smith writes that “there’s little in this world that has the emotional manipulative power of a good tribalized — us versus themnarrative.”

It’s time to change the narrative from us versus them to us plus the — which equals  a larger, greater, and more valuable us

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