Our humanity is measured by our compassion towards the least of those in society . . .
When we are rich, how do we handle the blessings we have? Do we hoard our wealth, because we have earned it and it is ours to do with as we see fit? Do we live in fear of what can happen to us? Are we afraid to lose what we have rightfully earned?
All of these questions have been haunting me for the past few years . . . Personally, I fail on many levels to be as compassionate as I could be. On a societal level, our nation has seemed to take a path towards isolationist protectionism. We needed to hold onto what was ours. American individualism headed in a new direction, turning inward . . . and in the process, it became fearful and somewhat selfish. Nowhere was this more apparent than on the ongoing public discourse regarding immigration . . . legal or otherwise.
I never gave immigration much thought. it was something that did not seem to affect me on a personal level. I am a fourth-generation us citizen, whose great-grandparents legally emigrated from Eastern Europe in the early 1900s. Over the past few years, I worked with many people who were first or second- generation immigrants, but i did not know anyone who was here illegally. Or maybe I did and I did not know it . . .
Illegal immigration is a complex and multi-faceted problem. It is easier to kick the issue down the road. Let the next generation deal with the problem.
I really do not have the answers as to how it should be solved. We are a nation of immigrants as well as a nation built on the rule of law. But if we are completely honest with ourselves, we are also a nation whose early settlers took this land from others who were here a long time before we arrived. We justify our actions by repeating the adage, ‘civilization has always been built on the back of conquest.’ We ourselves are not guilty of the crime, but we also cannot turn a blind eye towards that truth.
What I do know is that our country has a lot of invisible people . . . among them, those who have entered this nation through other than legal channels. some have come here for nefarious reasons, but many more, for whatever reason, have fled their countries to seek a better life.
It is easy to sit back and say what others should do, based on the laws. We are taught to obey the law, but we are fortunate because for the most part, our laws are the most equitable of any society currently in the world today.
So i ask the question . . . what is wrong with that?
I cannot even imagine what they were escaping from. I live a life of comfort. I do realize that the poorest of our own citizens live far better than the majority of the people in the world. Seven billion people on this planet, and most live far below the U.S. poverty line. Millions of people chained into circumstances of violence, with no viable means of escape, or the ability to affect change in their own homelands to a more equitable society. Billions of people seeking their next meal, not knowing when or if they will eat again. All are trapped, simply because they are powerless to implement real and lasting change.
Still . . . I ask the question . . . if you were in that situation, what would you do? Would you try to escape to a better life, even if the door was firmly shut and locked? Would you attempt to swim across a river with a child for the hope of a better life, because where you came from was hell on earth?
The debate continues to rage. We need to take care of our own. We need to punish lawbreakers who did not follow the proper legal channels of immigration. We need to protect ourselves from criminal elements entering our country. We need to feel safe from any threats, real or imagined. We have the right to enjoy life and the fruits of our hard-earned labors. We need to preserve the means to become as rich as we possibly can through our hard work.
And there is nothing wrong with those reasons either . . .
What troubles me as I follow the discourse, is not the fact that as a wealthy nation, we do have the rights to enjoy the fruits of our labors and the benefits of a land that honors the value of personal freedom, but that we have a severe lack of pity and compassion towards those who come out of these horrible societal conditions, and we do not even attempt to put ourselves in the shoes of those victims for even a moment . . . simply a shrug of the shoulders as migrants, immigrants and refugees are herded into cages, separated from their families and then deported back, because the immigration quota cannot be exceeded.
But let us spend billions on a wall instead . . .