That’s right, I’m not crazy.
Still, when I say that borders shouldn’t exist, people do look at me like I’m crazy. When I elaborate – that borders and visas effectively punish those who were not lucky enough to be born in nice countries – people still look at me like I’m crazy.
Even when I take a step back and say, we need to at least relax immigration rules world-wide and make them more common sense so they can be more in line with the realities of globalization (I mean, I don’t know a single Millennial who hasn’t studied or worked abroad) – people continue to look at me like I’m crazy.
But I’m not crazy. And now, one of my idols, feminist activist Gloria Steinem, agrees. Here’s what she says in a new video about creating social change:
“Practically all big change starts with small groups. You can’t do it by yourself. People are communal creatures. You need to have an alternate, regular place that’s almost an alternate family where you can create a different set of possibilities [and] discover that YOU’re not crazy, the system is crazy.”
I personally realized that the system is crazy only about a year ago. Before that, I used to think I was crazy.
My epiphany came when I was living in Belgium – as a Bulgarian. But it’s not just my personal experience with the need for work permits that made me realize it. It was also my work as a reporter. I got to do research about the EU’s immigration system and all I can say is, if you haven’t dealt with it, you’re very lucky.
The term “fortress Europe” is more than accurate. With every passing day, European countries are tightening immigration rules, asking non-EU citizens to meet an ever growing list of requirements, some of them quite unrealistic, before they can live in Europe.
This is despite the fact that study after study shows that Europe, with its aging population, desperately needs immigrants.
And don’t even get me started on detention. Locking up undocumented migrants who have committed no felony is quite prevalent in Europe. And it will continue to be even under the EU’s new common asylum system, which is set to become a reality soon.
So yeah, I’m not crazy, the system is. Now I just need to find that alternate family of like-minded people in Toronto, my new home. Who wants to adopt me?
By the way, before I end this post, a word about the video with Gloria Steinem that I linked to. It’s part of this amazing new digital project called MAKERS, which tells the stories of trailblazing American women – some of them famous, others not so much.
The documentary premiered yesterday in the United States on PBS, but it’s now available on the MAKERS site.
Do watch it! It’s a great, super important piece and I feel extra thrilled about it because the executive producer is Betsy West, one of my instructors at Columbia Journalism School. I took a TV magazine class with Betsy. No textbooks, no exams. We just filmed and produced video stories set in New York City. It is as terrific as it sounds, but that’s another story!
For now, just remember: I’m not crazy, the system is.