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Social Cohesion by Zac Brewer for MIL

"Go to any place on the planet and talk with some of the people who live there. Inevitably you will speak with people who fall on one of two sides when it comes to the question of how people who were not born in that place ought to be treated within that society.


In your travels and your talks, you’ll hear from some people who favor social and political policies of isolation, which align with deep seated fears of (and frustrations with) people born in other places, the way they think, and the way they do things. Though these folks are often well intentioned, and often think they’re properly advocating for the safety and prosperity of their homeland, these people are holding their own society back.


On the other side of things, you’ll also hear from people who support programs and initiatives which are more inclusive, people who see all humans as global citizens and recognize the perpetual inevitably of people migrating from their home in one land to new homes in other lands. These people look for the benefits of integrating immigrants into their society. These people are excited by the prospect of incorporating innovative new perspectives within their communities which will lead to the sort of advancement and prosperity that can only be achieved by opening the door to new ideas and approaches. These people are fighting for a success filled future for the land where they live, and for the human community which we are all a part of.


The largest hurdle between isolationist perspectives and perspectives of inclusion is the simple fact that -- whether we would like to admit it or not -- change is scary. New ideas, unique methods of thinking, and novel ways of doing things can all be scary too, or at the very least seem needlessly frustrating when we think that “the old way works just fine”. The trouble with that sort of thinking is that the old ways will only work fine for so long. The path to true prosperity and societal advancement almost always lies with innovation.


When people from new places are welcomed and appreciated, when their perspectives are embraced rather than feared, exponential progress is frequently achieved as people from different backgrounds come to work together, and in doing so combine their collective knowledge. The old adage “knowledge is power” is an old adage because it’s true.


With only our own knowledge, we (as individuals, and as a society) are much less powerful than we are when we share what we know with others and have them in turn share what they know with us.

Much of this may seem obvious, but these values are being cast aside in many different parts of the world right now. Technology has advanced to the degree that large amounts of people, regardless of their position within their own society, have become pacified by the ease of modern life. Many people do not think they need their neighbor any longer, do not recognize the importance of incorporating different perspectives and methodologies into their lives and societies.


This way of thinking is dangerous to all human societies as it is sure to slow advancement globally, as it is sure to narrow individual perspectives.

By no means do I intend to suggest that working together with people from other places to understand different techniques and trains of thought is easy work. Taking the time to understand a new way of doing a thing you already know one way of doing can be complicated and extremely frustrating, especially in a world where we’ve come to expect all information to come quickly and with ease. But the alternative to doing that hard work (of embracing that which is new and foreign and complicated and frustrating to us) is falling behind in a global sense, both in our society and as individuals. And I have to hope that is not what anyone would want for themselves or their communities.


Here I am reminded of another proverb which has been advocating for the necessity of social cohesion since before that phrase even existed. “If you want to go fast, go alone but If you want to go far, go together.” For humanity to go far, we must go together. "