Who should be in our country, why should they be here, and what should we do about those trying to sneak in?
There is a lot of talk around immigration now. I won’t pretend to understand all the complications of immigration reform, but I am convinced one of the easiest ways to spot people with wrong ideas and shallow minds is through their willingness to spew racism or slander against fellow men.
Immigration is a challenging problem when it comes to tax law but it is not so tough a problem to resolve when it comes to living humanely. Pitting who we perceive as “our group” against “those other” groups is essentially modern tribal thinking. Of course, “modern tribal” is practically a contradiction in terms. However, in a society that is globally connected through a 24/7 economy thanks to things like the internet and international travel, there is no logic to living as if we belong to separate, ancient, territorial tribes.
The fundamental flaw with tribalism is some people today act as if the world actually works the way a child’s grade school map in an old textbook looks like it works.
It is easy for us to pretend there is a giant thick bold line that divides each country, state, or space between land and water but there is obviously no actual giant bold-faced wall between land masses. If there was no sign telling you, there would be no way to tell exactly where Michigan ends and Indiana begins as you drive out of one and into the other.
Part of my childhood was spent living on the border of Texas and Mexico and from what I remember there is no way to tell where the sand suddenly stops being American and becomes Mexican. I would struggle to identify which grain of dirt or which blade of grass from the border comes from one country and not the other.
What I am saying is, the only borders that exist between countries and the only distinctions between types of people are the ones we choose to pretend are there. Actual, physical borders exist the same way the Tooth Fairy does… in the minds of small people.
Anywhere we look in the universe, we find the absence of delineation. There is no magic line between the light of the sun and the point where it lands on Earth. There is no border sign where Earth’s atmosphere ends and space itself begins. We are unable to even decide when a rock stops being a rock and starts being a planet as evidenced by the debate over Pluto.
Closer to home, an ocean and beach move seamlessly into one another. There is no wall dividing them. One is merely an extension of the other and they do not pretend to be separate. Only humans have a label called “ocean” and a label called “beach”. The water, land, fish, coral, plants, and salt do not care what they are called and do not see themselves as different things–they live in unity.
Sadly, I think racism will be something to debate as long we are willing to acknowledge a thing called “race” (whatever that means to you) that makes one human different from another. The same is true of sexism, theism, and nationalism.
The truth is, there is no one trying to steal your job. You have never met a person from another country out to take your seat at your company. There are people everywhere willing to work and looking for honest opportunity, including you, but they will take what they can get (including you). Holding onto your job and doing it better than others who would be happy to have it is your burden and not something to throw a tantrum about because someone in the media hyped up an imaginary problem for you.
There is no one trying to take over your country (except maybe your government). You probably do not know, and have never met, anyone with a nefarious plan to steal your family, your livelihood, or your flag. Don’t buy into the pretense that there is an immigrant conspiracy coming for you because there is no “other” team here.
Except for Native Americans, we are all here, ultimately, from the families of illegal immigrants. Columbus and other conquerors were not invited to take the land from the indigenous people already here. We all know that; we can stop pretending to hold onto the place we are standing on Earth the way toddlers covet their toys.
In my mind, it is hypocritical to pretend to own something that was never ours. Perhaps more to the point, for those who have forgotten third grade Social Studies class, it was there that I first learned the words inscribed on the Statute of Liberty, both as a salute to the American Dream and as reminder of our country’s roots and founding principles. The inscription says:
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
These famous lines are from a poem by Emma Lazarus called “The New Colossus” and I can not think of a better example to solve the question of pro or anti-immigration debates, than the very words at the most famous border sign of our country. Remember, as with most things, standing with or against your fellow human beings is a choice and your choice reflects upon who you choose to be for yourself, your family, and everyone else.
Hate people or embrace them. Regardless of political rhetoric or media bias, the fundamental choice is the same and will drive your life and the example you set for others.