Markus Stocker bio photo

Markus Stocker

Between information technology and environmental science with a flair for economics, the clarinet, and the world of soups and salads.

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Granted, perhaps, … not having much, at least compared to some which is, however, still a lot compared to others, most others.

With the spirit of Laura María Agustín, author of “Sex at the Margins: Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry,”

Immigrants are human beings with the courage to leave the comforts of home,

my question is: Have you ever been an immigrant? If you have, I believe, you do appreciate the different light the perspective sets on immigrants. Yes, immigrants are, first and foremost, human beings; they are courageous human beings.

No matter how much of your stuff you relocate, as an immigrant you are required to leave behind some of the comforts of home. Then, some things you can’t relocate.

What are your comforts of home? The four walls you know so well? The sense of secureness of a locked front door? The mattress and bed sheets you wash every week? The toilet, shower and kitchen that are reliably clean? The tasty and healthy fresh tap water that magically flows through the faucets at home, with just the right temperature? The daily routine that permits you to walk to your office and simultaneously do a few other things – to call someone, to eat something, to switch music on your iPod, or even read a book – only because your feet know without you telling them where to go? Is it the view from the window of your quiet bedroom? Or perhaps the ability to walk through your preferred grocery store knowing that to glance over the label colors is sufficient to reliably have what you need for dinner? Or are your friends, family, kids, grandparents, nephew, wife or husband the actors of your comfort of home?

No matter how you take it, how you twist it or from which angle you look at it, as an immigrant you are a courageous human being because you always leave some of the comforts of home behind. Surprisingly, it doesn’t matter, I think, how rich or how poor you are. The comforts of home you leave behind are, perhaps, reflected in what you feel for a short moment when, after months or years, you find yourself home, again, wherever home is.

Not having much, stuff, is an incredibly useful condition for an immigrant. Practically speaking, it is just a lot easier to emigrate if you are a proud owner of nothing, or, granted, not much. No difficult trade-offs for which things to carry along and which to leave behind; your things always fit into a single luggage. More importantly, though, the experience of being an immigrant with not much stuff reminds me what a comfortable life – as one of the 20% with more than $10 a day – I have while most almost certainly have but a few or none of what I consider comforts of home. Being an immigrant with not much stuff also reminds me, again, how little I truly need, which is, however, still a lot compared to others, most others.

Not having much becomes a privilege, a feeling of true independence, a sense for what I have, nothing that is a lot.