We are a transient species. We are driven to seek out a home where we feel safe, find love, or seekopportunity. We want to be free to live honestly, reach our full potential, and see our children prosper. We are always searching for green pastures, somewhere on the other side of the next ridge. Given circumstances that seem impossible; threatened by war, poverty, or oppression, we are willing to risk the perils of the road. Finding love, or trying to fulfill a dream, we gamble our future in foreign lands. It is in our nature to wander, but at the end of the journey, we look for places to call home. All of us came from somewhere else; no matter who you are, anywhere on this planet. Winds shift, tides shifts, and continents drift; we are the dust of distant stars.
Wading through the rhetoric of our age, you would think that the American continent was born out of the ether; a vast empty space, pre-ordained by God for the exclusive homeland of a small population of Europeans dissatisfied with their treatment in their own countries. Once the land was settled, it’s natives subdued and it’s independence reckoned with, it took on a mythic character, where it’s leaders were sage, sober men who, with the guidance of the almighty, created the perfect conditions for it’s people to prosper. Ignoring some of the uglier truths of slavery, forced resettlements, and the suppression of women’s right to vote; it was a terrestrial paradise, where men of industry rose to the top through the sweat of their brow, and the force of their intellect. This was the order of the day, and won out over it’s enemies at home and abroad, until it suddenly began to crack under the pressure and strain of it’s own generosity of spirit. The snake oil they peddle is that some have a claim to this land that trumps that of other’s, and that those who come here now are only interested in colonizing, and weakening the present order, as well as leaching off a system that is already at the brink of oblivion. The demagogues prey on fear, and an underlying sense of panic among a population that has suffered mightily from an historic shift brought about by outsourcing and globalization, and double dealing by those self-same merchants of terror.
What was once a rational argument over the role of immigration in our society and the valid concerns over border security have devolved into jingoism and naked, aggressive racism in the white hot kiln of contemporary politics. When you have a leading candidate for one political party base his platform on the assumption that our neighbors to the south are “…killers and rapists”, and the rest of them jump through hoops to avoid contradicting him, you know the train has gone off the rails. The class of windbag that has steadily degraded the tone of conversation to the likes of a David Duke rally, only knows how to paint in black and white, but I prefer to see the whole spectrum.
Where is the truth regarding this issue? I think most of us know it; at least those of us who have come to know and build relationships with people who have come from all corners of this wide world to make the United States their home. It is hard to imagine that in our time, people would willfully choose ignorance, because it is fundamentally, I believe, a choice. A choice to ignore the family that runs the restaurant down on the square, that has truly embraced the “American dream”, throwing everything that they have into their business and sacrificing their present, so that their children will aspire to higher heights. It is a choice to ignore the kind doctor who worked nights, when she was not in classes, so that she could use her knowledge to care for and heal our children. It is choosing to dishonor those soldiers, who have sacrificed their lives fighting for us, proud to risk it all for a flag that they adopted, and earned the right to call their own.