02022-08-01 | Writing | 3 comments

Friday 29 July 2022 – The Monocle Minute | Monocle:

This week, Portugal’s government moved to relax visa restrictions for fellow Lusophone countries, while Germany is reforming its immigration system to ease its worker shortage. Japan, however, continues to suffer from an ageing yet historically immigration-averse population.

Without immigration, we’re all heading in Japan’s direction. UK census data shows that there are now more people aged 65 and over in England and Wales than children under the age of 15. Despite this, the contenders to be the UK’s next prime minister seem resolutely anti-immigration, echoing the political debate that has been seen in both France and the US in recent years. They should instead be making a positive case for the more considered and systematic immigration policy that’s clearly needed. Wealthy nations face a stark choice. Following the lead of Portugal and Germany by becoming more hospitable to foreigners would be a good place to start.

I love that word Lusophone, because it sounds like a musical instrument, some kind of large horn perhaps.

Here is a paragraph from the book “Grand Hotel Europa” by Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer

Those who believe they are suffering tend to blame people who are suffering even more. The weak are generally gunning for the even weaker. And the fact that there are hardly any boat refugees or other African immigrants in Venice may not form an impediment to identifying them as the source of all evil.


Separatism arises from a nostalgia for better times which may or may not have actually existed. It’s tempting to think that the solution to today’s problems might be to turn back the clock to a time when those problems didn’t yet exist. This is the lure of right-wing populism, which in essence is nostalgic. Discontent and fears are roused, stoked up and magnified, and then an idyllic, idealized past is presented as the solution. We need to close our borders again, bring back our quaint old currency, let church bells ring and shut down mosques, restore military service to its former glory, sing the national anthem and fetch our former decency from the attic and polish it until it is a shining beacon in the dark night.

When I hear people talk about the good old days, and how simple things used to be, I think they don’t actually mean a certain period of time but a particular stage in their own life. The life of a five year old is indeed simple. Your parents tell you what to do and they love you, feed you, give you shelter – if things go well for you. As we grow up, however, things should change, in fact they need to change, because increasing consciousness leads to increasing complexity. Now the simple lines, that were once drawn with a sharpie, gain modulation, become pencil drawings that grow bolder here and finer there, because graphite pencils have 16 degrees of hardness. Eventually color is added, for even more variation and complexity. When people say that they want to return to a simple life I think they really mean that they want to go back to being a child.


  1. JaneParham

    What is happening to countries from whence people are emigrating? This is a deep subject.

    My recent journey in Ireland is still haunting me. I may be feeling some connection since my paternal grandma was Clara McConnell, so I am closely related to Irish as well as English immigrants. I could sense the Irish misery that had gone on for centuries of oppression from Vikings, English and (I have to make a study of all that history). Millions of Irish did emigrate to the USA and have contributed much to America. The Irish people today are outstandingly charming and friendly. Why does my heart grow so heavy at the remembrance of all the ruined abbeys, castles, and simple farmhouses sitting all over Ireland. I am troubled.

    I wish my eyes had opened a long time ago to the realities of the old world. I always just enjoyed Europe as a cultural, historical experience. I never heretofore empathized with all the struggles. I have prolonged my secure, idyllic and sheltered childhood too long. I’m bored with it. Let me see the Truth. I agree with the idea that people may mean they want to go back to being a child when they claim to long for the good ole days. I am ready for the increased colors and complex lines and shapes of growing awareness.

    Ottmar, thank you for this privilege of writing my thoughts in your Diary. It is a catalyst for me.

  2. anne

    A simple life – yes

    Yesterday I was watching a documentary on monks – Into Great Silence.
    Thought – how lucky i am,…my life is simpler now ( i too use a watering can instead of a hose for garden – become a ritual for me…make sweet posy’s , cook, etc.)

    Rarely drive anywhere – walk to get groceries. Lots of nature around .
    Best of all,…Get to watch my lovely daughter grow up.

    • anne

      little things can fill up your time

      i was cleaning out under the stairs and found my glass grinder and tools. … i found this wonderful piece that i had cut out but never finished – like over 20 years ago now.

      So i am working on it now ….it’s a lake , with a pine tree and snow cap mountain in background and this huge sunrise.

      sewing in another long past hobby. …decided to get my sewing machine out too – got lots of things to mend..


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