Wicked Problems: Bringing Wisdom and Compassion to Immigration

“Once again, ‘unitas multiplex’ is still the best motto: universal deep features, but culturally relative surface features, are what we find in the growth to goodness.”Ken Wilber, One Taste

Immigration has been a wicked problem for society ever since the very dawn of civilization itself. We are by our very nature a migratory species, having colonized almost every major land mass on the planet and competed over the scarce resources provided by our local environments and social systems.

And yet, over that long and usually violent history, migration has been a powerful force in the unfolding of the human spirit. The ongoing exchange of ideas, values, identities, traditions, and worldviews has generated new forms of art, literature, engineering, science, and mathematics, while also deepening our empathy and understanding of each other, and of the human condition as a whole.

While the challenges and benefits of migration have been with us since the very beginning, in today’s world the problems have become even more wicked. We are now seeing an entirely new set of pressures and life conditions weighing down on us, as things like climate change drive new waves of forced migration at a time when the nation-state has become our primary source of identity, governance, and distribution of scarce resources, when social and institutional trust is at an all-time low, and when the boundaries between us feel more opaque than ever.

To allow too many immigrants into a nation-state can be seen as unwise, while bring too few would be uncompassionate. So how do we find a more integral approach to immigration, one that:

a) is based on worldcentric values, ethics, and moral reasoning
b) respects the humanity, needs, and dignities of the “other”,
c) respects the agency, identity, resources, and threat perceptions of citizens,
d) respects and includes ethnic differences without falling into ethnocentric thinking?

Watch as Magdalena, Mark, and Corey offer their own ideas. Topics include:

0:00 — Republic of the heart: remembering Terry Patten
10:25 — The Wicked Problem of Immigration
15:34 — The false choice between isolationism and “open borders”
17:59 — Include the values, negate the views
21:27 — Nation-state identities
23:24 — Borders: where identity and threat meet
28:05 — Direct causation vs. systemic causation
30:10 — Barack Obama’s border wall
33:40 — “Desirables” and “undesirables”
39:16 — Cultural compatibility and healthy pluralism
43:47 — The problem of scarcity
47:34 — Rising immigration patterns in the U.S.
50:35 — Calling out the tropes: Islam and welfare
55:52 — The development of identity
57:27 — How social media is making ethnocentrists of us all
1:03:15 — How should integral standards be enforced?
1:08:20 — How international diplomacy can help
1:11:37 — Regulating the transnational economic holon
1:15:40 — Moving beyond the nation-state
1:22:01 — The neoliberal bias: extrinsic vs. intrinsic value
1:23:36 — Developmental diversity: wisdom and compassion
1:25:08 — The Canadian border wall
1:26:03 — The cruelty is the point
1:31:44 — Equal opportunities and more equitable inequities

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“The border is a handshake that becomes a squeezing contest.”

This is a line from “The Border: A Double Sonnet” by Alberto Rios. You can read the entire (short) poem, full of metaphors, at poets.org/poem/border-double-sonnet. I know Alberto; I wouldn’t consider him “woke” in the negative way that word is commonly used. Much of his poetry has been in the style of magical realism, but he did grow up on the AZ-Mexico border and as the inaugural poet laureate of Arizona, has written in response to the conflicts there, where, as Magdalena so aptly put it, “national identity and threat perception meet.”

As indicated by the time-and-topic log presented above, this discussion covered so many aspects of the complex immigration issue. Deep bows to Magdalena for orienting the conversation to the overarching Integral value of inclusion and the wholeness of humanity. And bows to Mark and Corey for verbalizing support of that value while speaking (so it seemed to me) on behalf of amber and orange perspectives/stages of development (e.g. cultural compatibility and demographics and resources), without all the excessive distancing and abstraction of people that these stages proper can tend toward.

One element of the immigration debate that garners little attention is the declining world population. This decline (thus far) is not based on deaths from Covid (750,000+ so far in the U.S., 5 million+ worldwide), or from any possible or projected future pandemic/disease or climate-related causes or war or famine or any other unknown, but is due to the actual current lower fertility rates (fewer births) which are expected to continue as a result of women’s education and work and the wider availability of contraception. 23 countries, including Japan, Italy, and Spain, are expected to see their populations more than halve by the year 2100. While the U.S. is expected to remain close to the same in population, the U.K. has reportedly already used migration as a means of boosting their population in compensation for the falling fertility rates, and China has gone from a one-child policy to a conditional two-child policy, to, just a few months ago, a three-child policy. The “problem” is that the world is expected to be populated primarily by older people, many 80+, with too few working-age adults. (bbc.com/news/health-53409521, July 2020, based on research at the University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation).

Some researchers predict that there will come a time before the end of this century in which countries will actually be competing for migrants in order to have a labor pool that automation cannot satisfy.

There are 70 million displaced people in the world right now, with climate-change, wars, and the waning of democracy throughout parts of the world (leading to rising authoritarianism, corruption, human rights abuses, and hopelessness for change) increasing that number even as we speak. “Masses,” “waves,” “hordes,” “surges,” “floods” of people, each a human being with a face and a name, and most of them looking to satisfy needs way down there on Maslow’s hierarchy–food, shelter, safety.

While I have a pragmatist in me too, I wonder how different the conversation might be if we conducted it as a “thought-experiment” based on the idea that migrants are needed. What brainstorms, what practical ideas might we come up with then around immigration? While the U.S. might not need immigrants now, we have needed them before and likely will again,.

Granted, there is that approximate 60% of the U.S. (maybe 50% worldwide) that is ethnocentric. I agree we cannot force people to grow, but can we or should we force the halting of growth in consciousness that has already occurred and is occurring at other (higher) stages of development? At what point do we ask people to disregard or subordinate the dictates of their moral conscience?

Tricky and tough questions, all around.

"The border used to be an actual place, but now it is the act of a thousand
imaginations." Alberto Rios

We need bigger and healthier imaginations.

I ran across this video today:

What we see is that Compassionate Immigrations is actually the Wisdom.

Protectionism and strong borders was a solution for 17th and 18th century problems. Migration was a solution to 20th century problems.
In any sector with any problem - if we try to use an 18th century solution to solve a 21st century problem, it is the peak of absurdity. Another absurdity is thinking coal can power 21st century cities.

Here is a bit more boring but more authoritative video. The second video is old, but the second video of 2017 predicted the reality of the first video in 2021

I’m confused Ray. You live on a remote island and are prepping your bugout hideaway. That’s a pretty imaginative border strategy.
Or perhaps a bit of “good for thee, but not for me”?

What’s the confusion? Honolulu is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, and it’s entire modern history is of welcoming outsiders. Yes, doing that was to the detriment of the original inhabitants in the 19th century - so strong borders were as I say a solution for 18th and 19th century problems.

But ever since the 1920’s and so on, foreign owned land and foreign people living here and becoming “local” is just accepted as a normal part of life. There are a few extremist views in some Nativist movements to “kick out” everyone, but even in the Sovereignty movement this is a very small minority - so maybe 100-1000 people in the state might be Hawaii Protectionist. IDK the exact numbers but living on an Island you HAVE TO HAVE import and export of goods and everyone wants to get “off the rock” now and again, so almost nobody is anti movement of people.
Then most importantly, the economy is based on tourism and you have to bring in foreign labor for a lot of that. Hotel guests want a clean room daily - which is provided by cheap labor mostly from the Phillipines, and tourists enjoy the great variety of foods within walking distance and so this logically means we want immigrant cooks, waiters and small business owners and all the rest.

The more I dig into it, yeah - Hawaii has always had far more open “borders” than lets say Texas, California, Arizona. Even though we share laws with those states, the difference is like night and day.

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Stories like this remind me just how inevitable some kind of major adjustment is. Like the whole foundation on which our society is built is inevitably going to collapse.

Our modern economy cannot thrive without continuous sustained growth, and natural adjustments (depressions and recessions) in the natural order of pure Capitalism are deemed too painful to allow. But leaving aside science fiction and magic, we are limited to this one planet and it cannot sustain even our current population with zero growth for more than a few centuries. Humanity has placed all it’s eggs in the basket of “someone smart will figure something out later” or, God will teleport everyone to his magical castle of happiness in the clouds.

We are like an addict begging for more of what is killing us so that we can chase the dragon of decadent lifestyles. It’s with a cringe that I notice the article shows a “help wanted” poster for pizza delivery. How insane is that? People can’t even be bothered drive to get their food anymore. Pizza delivery used to be a maybe once a month thing. Now food delivery is becoming another one of those completely unnecessary basic necessities.

I am in favor of freedom of migration and disconnecting geographic locations from citizenship, but the reasons and justifications for why we allow slave labor into the country makes me shake my head.

Note this has only happened six times in the entire 3.7 billion year year history of life on earth:

@raybennett Yes, adjustments are needed.

The decline in (human) birth rates is a worldwide demographic pattern, although Nigeria and other parts of Africa are booming, population-wise, and expected to continue on that trend, becoming more populous than India or China. (Abortion is illegal in Nigeria, with severe consequences, and yet, Nigerians who do not want or can’t afford (more) children continue to have “back-alley” unsafe abortions). Even with the decline in birth rates throughout the world, we are still heavily populated as a planet, with humans anyway. I’m aware and have read numerous articles similar to the one you posted about the sixth species extinction we’ve apparently entered. This doesn’t seem to be high up on the list of priorities to address in our world, to the utter detriment of all. There are sooooooo many problems, and everything is related to everything else…

Unlike Elon Musk and others, I don’t think the answer to any decline in population is to encourage people to have children, and more children. For one thing, while some might, I don’t think most women (or their partners) are going to want to sacrifice the autonomy and agency they’ve gained through becoming educated and working, in order to birth and raise the next generation(s). Particularly when there has been little economic value placed on birthing and raising the next generation (and our society is very invested in almost everything having economic value). I just read that in Arizona, the cost of childcare for an infant is $11,000 a year, which is more than tuition, room and board combined at the state universities. Even in European countries where childcare is made available for free, birth rates have not gone up. Robb Smith (in the Wang Huning piece) may be right that there is a “narcissistic individualism” at play in people choosing to not have children. In fact, I’ve read pieces where people polled would largely favor (another tech proposal) external artificial wombs over ordinary pregnancy for the convenience of it in that it would be less interruptive to their work and social lives…

But culture itself has encouraged much of what we’re seeing around birth rates. “Follow your dreams” is a societal mantra, and in our egoic culture, those dreams are often about money, fame/status, and power. And, for at least the past couple of decades, young people have been bombarded with the message that you cannot be economically sound without a college degree, so many people have gone into stupendous debt in order to get that college education, so they have to keep working to keep paying the debt. And of course, as you frequently point out, consumerism/consumption is what is pushed as the magic that makes the world go round. People have to keep buying what is produced, even on credit, trusting in the future, in order to keep the capitalistic system as it is running. (There’s actually a term for hyperconsumerism on the home front: “lifestyle creep.”)

From what I have read about the history of capitalism, it is founded on tthose 3t ain c*oncepts:
incessant “producing,” credit/debt, and (says Y N Harari, author of the book Sapiens), trust in the future. We’re seeing problems in all three of those areas now, so something’s gotta give…

Getting back to the immigration topic, also from what I’ve read recently, unemployment in the U.S. is at 2%, and yet, there are labor shortages. That 2% is apparently either unqualified or uninterested in the major types of jobs that have a worker shortage: nursing, landscaping, construction, trucking, hospitality and food service. Combine that fact with the fact that there are so many people, migrants, who are in need of or want work and safety and better opportunities for themselves/their families, and it seems, while maybe not a match made in heaven (or maybe so), that that is the direction we and other countries might need to head in–taking in more immigrants, legalizing those that are here. Mark Fischler during this original Integral Justice Warrior podcast on immigration suggested that it would be a good idea to pay immigrants who take minimum wage jobs the same wage as is paid to minimum-wage citizen workers. There’s some merit in that, I think.
those three
main concepts

I don’t know where the source for this is, but with the declining health in the United States, just being an able-bodied human will be a “skill” that will be in demand in the near future. With the deplorable state of the average American’s health and with it declining by each generation and each generation getting more obese with more chronic health conditions - the only way to fill all the jobs that require able bodied human workers is from other countries.

Also it will be interesting as Baby Boomers age and not all can afford the going rate of Elder Care - how many of them will jump at the opportunity to hire an able bodied immigrant for the right price, even if it is contradictory to their political stance.

Yet another area where Ray is “ahead of the pack”. Let us know how it works out for you old timer!

Yes, indeed I am. Thank you for recognizing.
Though I’ve still got 20 years before I get to crisis mode and need to press the panic button (I’m Gen X).
It must be pretty miserable to be a Republican boomer, though - who hates immigrants but has to hire them because he had an unhealthy diet his whole life. And watches his FOX news and tells his caregivers all kinds of anti-immigrant tirades - and doesn’t even realize the nasty things they do to his toothbrush.

I actually ran across a meme in one of my younger Gen discords today and learned the term “Late Stage Capitalism”
It’s memes like this created by the younger Gens that reinforce my opinion that the older Generations will never “get it”, while the Youngest have already “got it”


Gen Z having it “figured out” and “living it” are two different things.
Do they drop in to the grocery store for $20 in food and eat well for 4 days or drive-thru for a $10 bag-o-death?
Hopefully they are cluing in on issues with the Theraputic State (Nanny State, Communism, Etc) and developing personal agency to take care of themselves.

And regarding your previous post, hopefully you realize thats the very best a dottering demented xenophobic like me can muster.
Gotta run now as my immigrant wife would like some tea. Hang in there Dingles! I love you like a brother. :wink:

Optics are horrible on stuff like this. It might be biased and inaccurate. Someone needs to stop this kind of journalism. Right?

There are I believe two fundamental factors that determine the size and strength of our agency:

  • Exterior conditions
  • Development

For example, Ken states in the “twenty tenets” section of Sex, Ecology, Spirituality, that at every stage evolution produces both greater agency, and greater communion. That is, a bigger “I” and a bigger/more inclusive “we”.

It also produces greater autonomy at every stage. Ken gives the example of a cold-blooded animal, which has a certain range of autonomy within a certain range of conditions. But if they go outside their ideal temperature range, they lose their autonomy. Mammals have greater autonomy over a greater range of conditions, and humans have even greater autonomy due to our ability to use tools, build shelter, etc.

Why does this matter? Because our conditions continue to define the extent of the agency and autonomy available to us. People who are struggling with the lowest rungs of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs have the least amount of agency and autonomy available to them. They are subject to their conditions in ways that economically-mobile individuals are not. And of course, there is a feedback loop that can occur between the two – people with low agency/autonomy can therefore struggle with meeting their basic needs, which in turn diminishes their agency/autonomy.

This is one reason I support something like national healthcare. Because having your access to healthcare tethered to your employer reduces your autonomy, and your ability to venture out, take risks, start a new business, and follow your entrepreneurial spirit.

Question for you — there has been a movement these days often known as “WorkReform”, where young people are finding solidarity together on the internet and walking away from low-paying jobs. Sort of a “soft union”, rebelling against what they perceive as a sort of neo-serfdom. In other words, they are using their agency to take collective action to increase their individual autonomy. Which is essentially the same as starting a union — which, of course, are responsible for everything from the middle class as we know it, to concepts like “weekends” and “vacations” and “child labor laws”. Do you agree that sometimes collective action can increase our individual agency and autonomy?

“What does an illegal immigrant have to do to get deported by President Joe Biden,” asks the headline.

“The Biden administration has smashed all records for immediate expulsions without due process, increasing the rate from 62,000 per month under Trump to about 100,000,” says the Cato Institute.

It sounds like the solution is not to stop that kind of journalism, but stop considering it “journalism” in the first place.

It’s a balance between personal agency and collective bargaining. The market will sort all of this out. In business we use a term called switching costs. What does it cost to simply fire and rehire new employees? If employees are available and the jobs are easily learned, then it’s hard to create collective bargaining situations. Usually easy to learn jobs are also easiest to automate - order taking in drive thrus, kiosks instead of counter order, etc.
It’s not clear to me from your example I we are talking about personal agency in the same fashion. I generally view as an individual taking responsibility for their life, education, skills, deamoner, work ethic etc and hence their marketability - their market value.
I think a fallacy to live as if an employer will provide an employee “meaning in a meaningless world” so to speak. Again, that is the individuals responsibility to develop. Internal Individual quadrant if you will. And of course your family, neighborhood, communities help enable this development. Again a fallacy that government will do this is just that, a fallacy.

I say have at it. But of course the young people might not understand that they are driving businesses to replace employees with technology solutions and systems.

So you’re 100% a supporter of everything Cato writes? 100% all in, no considerations?
If you’re right, Biden and Mayorkas will be suing a lot of people for liable and slander. :thinking:

What a strange straw man that is. Saying one article should not count as “journalism” does not mean “I 100% agree with this other source at all times.” That said, it appears CI has a higher track record for truth-telling (and less extreme bias) than Washington Examiner, yes.

Are you saying Cato is lying about the numbers it reported about increased expulsions under Biden? This is all verifiable stuff.

Interestingly, Biden is getting criticism from both is left and his right on this. The right is saying he is too lenient, despite increased expulsions, and the left is saying he is being too draconian by perpetuating Trump policies, despite reforming several facets of our immigration procedures. We probably want a President who gets heat from both sides of the aisle, yeah?

Yes, we agree with this definition. “Agency” is the interior capacity to manage and attend to your own thoughts, behaviors, relationships, and engagements. But it’s not just about “personal responsibility”. It also allows us to determine our own boundaries and sense of personal worth. It’s about our inner creativity, our drives and dreams and ambitions, our deepest sense of who we really are, and who we want to be.

And “autonomy”, I believe, would be the individual’s capacity to take action in order to attend to their needs and fulfill those drives. It is the range of freedom the individual has to exert their agency, and the capacity of the individual to actually do so. They are closely related, but not quite the same thing. One is more interior, zones 1 and 2, while the other is more of an exterior zone 5 autopoiesis, I think.

And my point is that the range, power, and depth of both our agency and our autonomy are constrained by a) interior development and b) exterior conditions.

Sometimes people are subject to conditions for which they cannot take responsibility — conditions that literally rob them of their agency, and the only personal responsibility they can take is learning how to cope with those conditions.

Sometimes people’s agency and autonomy drive them to do things like try to escape their conditions, maybe even to a different country, in order to find a safer home for their family.

Sometimes people’s agency drives them to seek collective action in order to improve the life conditions that restrict our autonomy.

I mean, it depends on the employment, right? There are certainly employers that can help the employee fulfill an interior sense of meaning, purpose, etc. Many values-driven businesses try to do this. I think the idea that we should all pursue our own unique Ikigai is an incredibly important one, don’t you?

Some companies explicitly try to facilitate this – offering training and skill development and wellness benefits for employees, for example. And they often find that investing in these things actually increases productivity and morale, which in turn creates a more finely tuned business.

If a new generation of the work force wants to use their own sense of personal value to push more companies to adopt these sorts of incentive structures, then it’s hard not to support that.

Of course, as you say, the market will figure it out. If these kids end up valuing themselves right out of the market, well, they will have to adapt. I’ve seen the same happen to people who have overeducated themselves right out of the market, and have a hard time finding employment with compensation that justifies their investment in their own education.

As it is, businesses are suffering because often the only way for employees to increase their value is to rapidly move from one company to another, so the turnover for businesses can be very disruptive. It turns out, most businesses are willing to hire someone at a higher salary than they are willing to bring an existing employee to that same salary. This is a notoriously bad problem when it comes to hiring marketers, for example. It’s hard to keep them for longer than a year or so. My wife’s company is experiencing this very problem, despite offering generous salaries and benefits.

In this case, the employee’s sense of self-value is not pricing themselves out of the market, but disrupting the market by lowering retention and increasing expenses to find and train replacements. I wonder if and how the market will adjust?

Again a fallacy that government will do this is just that, a fallacy.

Who ever said that it’s a government’s responsibility to provide “meaning” for its citizens? No one. Though many people in fact do pursue meaning through public service. The government’s job is to help protect and improve the general welfare of its citizens (i.e. life conditions) so that they will have the agency to discover their own sense of personal meaning, and the autonomy to pursue it.