Tuesday, April 27, 2010

immigration, part one

The hot news topic recently has been immigration. It has been spurred by the enactment of a new stricter law in Arizona, a state that I spent considerable time in in the past, but which I am glad to be out of. There are many reasons, chiefly climate and politics, but I still have good memories and friends from that period in my life as well. My experiences in Arizona are complex, as is the issue of immigration. It brings up many issues of faith and politics interacting and I hope to cover a few over the next few posts in order to prod your thinking.

There is the issue of entitlement. We often think of entitlement as an attitude of "others", chiefly seen in the anti-equality arguments of social conservatives against (as they say) "special rights" for gays. But I think that those of us who can trace our ancestry in this country back to colonial times have a habit of thinking in terms of entitlement for ourselves - and that can be dangerous.

There is the issue of dealing with those less fortunate. Our hearts are drawn to give to help victims of natural disaster, poverty, disease, in foreign lands. But when they come here to live and work, our attitude changes. We tend to be very protective of "our space" ,."our resources",. and forget everything we learned in kindergarten (sharing).

There is the issue of law. We are adamant that others abide by the letter of the law, but how often have we slipped out of ticket due to an understanding officer? What if the law was applied to us with the tightness that we advocate for others?

And finally, the issue of passion. It is a good thing to be passionate and to have strong opinions - it shows we care. But all too often it can degenerate into fear, distrust, hatred, and prejudice , of many varieties (not just racial).

I think the most important thing is to think clearly and with empathy...or at least with sympathy. We may not always be able to identify with what others are experiencing or feeling, but we can try to "walk a mile" in others shoes and think how we would feel if what we advocate doing to them were done to us. It just might change our attitudes and our hearts.

More to come in future posts.

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