When home is not really home

I found myself in an exotic land many years ago. I was given a playbook. The game there required me to participate in a handful of plays until my visa expired…

My idealist self reminds me that the world should unite to overcome the shallow governance of nation-states and trade agreements.

Cultures should unite based on core values. The golden rule can’t be that hard to implement.


The idealistic state has been hard to achieve in countries designed to accomplish a sort of Gandhian utopia. America and other immigrant nations such as Canada have come a long way. Yet, challenges remain with immigration. A few bad actors ruin the party for the rest of us. But too many rules prevent progress, too.

The latest news brings forth cautionary tales. The playbook I experienced in Japan — fully discriminatory and career-limiting— could become a new reality in the U.S. Thankfully, I’m as American as apple pie.

Japan tells foreign residents what to do and what not to do. The ceiling there is clearly defined no matter how talented you are. Quality of life is measured based on adherence to the playbook for foreigners. There is small margin for error.

Travel writer Pico Iyer has chronicled this topic more often than anyone else as a long-time resident of Japan. The Japanese approach is both frightening and re-assuring with strict ground rules to ensure safety. It may become the new reality for countries such as the U.S., Canada and Great Britain: Link

Home is not really home for most of us, anyways. The harsh reality is that new immigration rules may compromise comfort for the sake of safety. Accepting the new reality is what I learned back in Japan because life there is still much better than what is offered in my ancestral homeland (India).

Immigration is a complex issue. My parents’ experience coming to America was fraught with challenges. It was nearly impossible to extend my visa in Japan on two occasions. These days it’s rare to receive a warm welcome every time I cross a new border. And I’m ok with that. However, I do think immigration should continue for the sake of a better world. There’s never been a better time for countries like Japan to take advantage of the backlash against immigration in the U.S. and Europe. 

Some of America’s greatest entrepreneurs came from overseas and embraced a system that still works. A guy named Steve Jobs (link) could have ended up elsewhere if his biological father was turned away at the American border.

Japanese business leader Yoshito Hori clearly articulates what Japan needs to do if it wants to attract and hold onto foreign talent like Pico Iyer: Link

There are two sides to this debate. I favor immigration.

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