I wrote recently of a “tip”, a suggestion, to consider when choosing a nation for relocation. Here are two more. As always, keep in mind that these are my personal preferences and may not be relevant to you, but I think they are at least worthy of consideration when you set out to relocate outside your home nation.
Civil Wars – I mean civil wars that led to many deaths and usually years before ending. In such a nation, I prefer that it be 40 (even better, 50) years since the ending of the civil war. Why?
Most civil wars are fought by young men, often in their late teens and twenties. Let’s use 20 as an example for one individual. Ten or twenty or thirty years later, you are 30 or 40 or 50. Yes, the civil war is long over, but the memories may never be over. To have seen your best friend shot and killed before your eyes or your father taken away by armed men, never to be heard from again, is a traumatic event. You never forget that and it can be very, very difficult, if not impossible, to forgive that. Now you are middle-aged and you are able to work with someone who you know was on the “other side back then” in a professional and superficially friendly manner, but can you ever trust him?
In societies where this is the case, this factor can be very significant, although “hidden” to the eyes of a foreigner. Because it is so heavily charged with emotion, it can pervert relationships and lead to very unpleasant results if you accidentally say or do the “wrong thing” innocently.
In choosing business partners, should that be the case, this can be an important factor. You may have an excellent personal relationship with each of two other local people and decide to bring them together to work with you on a project. You need to be sensitive to their backgrounds and personal histories. Just because they get along fine with you is no indication they will be able to get along well with each other.
That’s on an indivudal level, but it can happen on a societal level as well. A political issue that seems pretty ordinary to you may lead to some very powerful conflict around you. This may be an issue that somehow reminds the society of one of the reasons they had a civil war in the first place. This is another very good reason to steer clear entirely of local and national politics. It’s good to do that under all circumstance to the extent possible, but especially so of nations that have torn themselves apart in war.
I sympathize with these folks. I have had middle-aged professionals reduced to tears as they described the horrors they witnessed during “the war” and it is a moving experience. However, sympathize as I do, I still prefer societies where this is not likely to be an issue. Forty or fifty years later, “the war” is still a primary issue for some, but now they are old enough to be moving aside and younger generations, even though they have heard the stories, are far more likely to assign all that to history and deal with each other directly in a far more constructive manner, and you too, indirectly.
Left/Right – I prefer nations that do not have a “far left” and a “far right” that are substantial in size, well-funded, highly vocal, and in perpetual conflict. In those societies, serious political conflict is a given factor, day and night. Since I only live in democracies (I have had my fill of military governments, one-party states, and the like), there is the real possibility that an election will lead to a near-complete reversal in domestic and foreign policies. This can cause endless problems for everyone as they struggle to keep track of what is allowed and what is not allowed. Plus the continuous barrage of extremist insults from both sides can leave many people frozen into inaction, fearing that one or the other group will gain power and suddenly change the rules of the game.
This can be especially a problem for “foreigners” like you and me. In domestic politics, foreigners are much easier and safer targets than local people who vote. In the 24 hours of an Election Day, you can go from being a welcome addition to their nation to something akin to the spawn of Satan! That legal agreement you signed last year can be torn up, now that a new government is in power. And people who treated you as a friend may suddenly be very distant or worse. This is one more thing that I have experienced and can do without. I can handle it (I had no choice on some professional assignments) for a short period, but I am talking about my new home and that is an entirely different story. It is an extreme example of the old saying about New York City, “It’s a great place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.”
That covers two of the “political” issues that concern me in choosing a nation for relocation. In my next post, I will discuss the importance of employment – both the employment situation for the local people and the employment situation for you. They are not one and the same, obviously, but you may be surprised that your situation is not necessarily the most important to successful relocation.
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