However much the world is becoming globalised, however much we travel around and even settle in other countries, however integrated a foreigner may feel in a society, foreigners are still foreigners. Even adopting the nationality of your new home still makes you of foreign origin.
The news we read and hear every day only emphasises how the place where someone is born and the culture they were brought up in defines their identity. However different the citizens of a country appear to be from each other within that country, once on foreign soil they have much more in common than they thought.
Here on the Costa del Sol where people of different nationalities have been living together for years our countries of origin are still used to define our identities, however “Spanish” our lifestyles and customs have become. If that wasn’t the case “She’s French” or “He’s Argentinian” would not be the first thing we say when describing a new acquaintance.
So this brings me to the tragic death of the man – the British man – following a late night fight outside a bar in Cómpeta earlier this month. However the incident started (the police seem to be getting somewhere at last – two are behind bars) no one has had any doubt that it was a conflict between a group of Spaniards and a group of British residents or holidaymakers. Cómpeta, a town that has always attracted foreigners and where many people of different nationalities happily live side by side, normally without any problems, became a battlefield with two very distinct armies.
The youngsters involved in the scuffle that got way out of hand would probably find they had a lot in common if they sat down together under different circumstances: sports, TV programmes, music, cars, computer games, etc …. But differences caused by nationality, culture and language seem to lead to hostility more easily than to friendship.
About the same time we read about the Bolivian man who lost an arm in a machine while working in a bakery. His boss left him outside the hospital, telling him to say he had simply had an accident, before throwing the severed arm in the rubbish and cleaning the machine in question. The victim, not a legal resident, was working with no contract and making no social security payments. In this case the language and cultural barriers were probably smaller, but the fact that the worker was of a different nationality meant that his bosses thought they could treat him like a second class citizen.
If only there was a way that personality could get through before our impression and treatment of others is influenced by their nationality.
Filed under: General by Rachel Haynes