Friday, August 28, 2009

What Kind of Nation

What kind of a nation do we wish to be, what kind of a people to we aspire to become.

This will be one of my occasional political posts, so if you think you will be so upset by my somewhat liberal leanings, quit now. I wouldn't want you to miss out on my other posts, the ones you enjoy because you are turned off by my views.

I occasionally read the comments posted in response to articles in our local paper. I am dismayed at the tone of responses to articles about health care and California's economic plight. Many people seem to believe that all our problems are caused by "illegal aliens" and if we get rid of them all will be well. The language used and the sentiments expressed certainly do not reflect our better nature.

Don't get me wrong, I do not support illegal immigration but there is a difference between immigration and immigrants. I have long championed "zero population growth" and have mixed feelings about immigration of any kind. The interplay of population, immigration and the environment is a complex subject that I will leave for another time.

Here I am speaking about immigrants, the people themselves, and I have great respect for them. For the most part they are hard working people who just want a better life for themselves and their families, just like the immigrant ancestors of those of us who are fortunate to have been born here. Researchers have found that undocumented immigrants add far more to the economy than they take, and I believe that to be true. I have observed how hard they work and how little they get in return.

Except for those in the underground economy, they are having payroll taxes withheld but many will never see the social security or medicare for which they have been paying. Unlike many Americans, most of their ailments go untreated. True, they wind up in the emergency room if they are seriously ill, but so do many uninsured Americans.

We are happy to have them mow our lawns and watch our children for low wages. We like the cheap produce that they pick and don't care about the poor working conditions they endure in the meat packing plants, unpleasant work many of us wouldn't do at any wage. We don't ask about the status of the care givers at the places we have put our elderly. No, we are happy to have the immigrants here until we need a scape-goat for the problems of our own makings

Where is our compassion? our "Christian values" that so many of these same people claim to hold? I am not saying that our problems are easy to solve, I am not even saying that we should open our doors to all who want in. It may be that we can not afford to be generous. What we should not do is demonize the "other".

Let us have an honest discussion of the issues. Ignore the dishonest rhetoric of Fox un-news. If we can't give health care and citizenship to all who need it and want it, let it be with sadness and regret that we deny it rather than irrational indignation. These people are just as deserving as the rest of us.
So, are we a nation of mean-spirited xenophobes or are we a nation of caring, thoughtful, generous people doing our best to see the inherent worth and dignity of all mankind.


john said...

I came here seeking beautiful pictures and found that your words are just as powerful and beautiful. thank you for sharing.

Linda Reeder said...

Good post. I like an occasional liberal rant!
I guess it's easy to dehumanize people we don't know. When we know the story of individuals it makes a difference in our thinking. It allows for compassion and empathy. Well, usually anyway. There are those who may be beyond redemption, and they are the ones we hear from.