No Time for Immigration?- Part 2

The questions I raised last week on immigration can be summarized very succinctly into one overarching question.   Do immigrants benefit or hurt the USA in today’s global world?  If you believe that they absolutely do no good for our country or our economy than you are anti-immigration.  This may be an honest position and a sensible one if your opponents cannot show that immigration on balance does benefit our country.   If you believe that under certain conditions and within certain constraints, it may do some good or perhaps a great amount of good for our country than you are for a fair immigration policy. There is a big difference between anti-immigration and fair immigration.  Many of the arguments and positions advanced today are anti-immigration.  However, a fair immigration policy must create a balanced win-win for our nation and for those immigrants seeking to become a part of it.  If you are for a fair immigration policy, then you must educate yourself on this issue and demand that those who lead us do all they can to create such an equitable immigration policy.  To demand any less, is to damage the fabric of this country.  Assuming of course, that you see the benefits immigration can have.   

Now some of you may be thinking, well “what about illegal immigration,” where does this fit in.  I think this question needs a blog of its own and next week I will try to address this issue.  Suffice it to say for now, that I am not for allowing anyone to enter this country illegally. However there is a still a big chasm between an anti-immigration policy and a fair immigration policy.   Let’s look at some comments from anti-immigration people.   

“The mighty tides of immigration bring to us not only different languages, opinions, customs and principles, but hostile races, religions and interests, and the traditional prejudices of generations with a large amount of turbulence, disorganizing theories, pauperism and demoralization…I freely acknowledge that among such masses of immigrants there are men of noble intellect.  But the number is lamentably small.”  – Garrett Davis

“The real objection to immigration lies in the changed conditions that have come about in the United States themselves. These conditions now dominate and control the tendencies that immigration manifests.  At the present time they are giving to the country a surplus of cheap labor – a greater supply than our industries and manufacturing enterprises need.” – Frank Julian Warne  

“It is an incontrovertible truth that the civil institutions of the United States of America have been seriously affected, and that they now stand in imminent peril from the rapid and enormous increase of the body of residents of foreign birth, imbued with foreign feelings, and of an ignorant and immoral character, who receive under the present lax and unreasonable laws of naturalization, the elective franchise and the right of eligibility to political office.”  Declaration of the Native American National Convention.

I confess I was having a hard time sorting out the arguments for and against immigration until I came upon a series of articles comprising debates for and against immigration that were written in the 1800’s.  Suddenly, I could see the same arguments (in slightly more modern language) that are being used by those against immigration today.  The difference is we now have the advantage of hindsight to see how much validity they have.  The comment by Santayana that “Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it” started ringing in my mind.”   Let me make this clearer.  Take the first quote above.  This is from an article by Garrett Davis “America Should Discourage Immigration” written in 1849.  Garrett was appalled by the number of Germans and Irish that were coming over and sought to persuade the government that we needed to strongly discourage such immigration.  Everyone knew that the Germans and Irish were “mixed up with a large amount of idleness, moral degradation and crime.  It is not too hard to find those today who still argue that new immigrants from new countries are also prone to such problems as excessive moral laxity, uncleanliness and crime.  

The second quote is from Frank Warne and was excerpted from the Immigration Invasion, written by Warne in 1913.  Franks main concern was that all the Italian, Greek and Slavic immigrants coming over would lower wage rates and prevent America from developing the technology it needed to compete globally.  Warne said:  “Immigration tends to retard the invention and introduction of machinery which would otherwise do this rough labor for us.”  Looking back over the period from 1913 to 1990 can anyone find any validity in this argument?  The USA was arguably the most productive nation in the world from at least the early 1900’s to the late 1900’s.  

 The third quote is from a prominent anti-immigration group and was written in 1845.  According to this group, the USA would decay from within as the new residents would not adjust to the American Way of life.  I think it can be said that from the early Pilgrims right up until the present time, we have not seen the American Way of Life yet corrupted by any successive wave of immigration regardless of what nation they were from.  There is a saying in organization development which goes “put a good person in a bad system and the system will win every time.”  I think the reverse of this saying is also true and it explains the greatness of our nation. 

Put a “bad” or at least a new person in a good system and the system will also win every time. New immigrants become creative honest hardworking and hard driving Americans. Proud of their new nation and willing to work even harder than the old generation of immigrants who now take their privileges and luxuries for granted.  Can anyone doubt the power of democracy and our constitution?  

There is one fallacy which I think is argued by the liberal-immigration forces.  I regard the liberals as those who would just let everyone in and do not see the need for a fair and equitable immigration policy.  In their naivete, they think just leaving things alone will produce such a policy.   “Lets let everyone come in whenever they want to and everything will be okay.”  The liberal-immigration groups will often argue that the best, brightest and hardest working leave their country to come to America and the rest stay home.  Those who do not want to come to America are either too lazy or stupid to leave.  This concept is a sort of social Darwinism and it is advanced as an argument in favor of immigration and more liberal policies towards it.  However, I see no evidence that the people who stay home are any different from those who come to our shores.  People are people.  The first settlers to come to America were from a wide range of social and economic conditions.  Many in Europe were glad to get rid of them.  We would probably regard many of these first settlers as illiterate, radical and dangerous.  Nevertheless, they built the nation we now call home.  To argue that we should allow more immigration because they are the best and brightest is self-serving and short sighted.  Short sighted in that it overlooks the power of our nation’s values and ideals to assimilate all who enter this nation.  Self-serving since it suggests that we overlook the downtrodden and oppressed in favor of only those who appear to fit our elite definitions of the “best and brightest.”  

Let’s all work towards a fair immigration policy.  Let’s give up any anti-immigration rhetoric as incompatible with our American ideals.  Forevermore, history has shown that immigration has helped to make our nation great.  Let’s work together to create a plan to help our nation remain a beacon of light to those who are down trodden and oppressed.  We need a fair immigration policy that becomes further evidence to the world of the Great American Experiment.  

Time for Questions:

Can you help this happen?  Can you fight against the prejudice of others to keep our shores open to those in need?  Can you add your voice to those who want a fair immigration policy? Can you help quell the anger and rhetoric that fuels much of the “anti-immigration” debate?  Can you speak out and support those who want to make America a home as much as your ancestors did? 

Life is just beginning. 

Searching for Truth- Inquisitio Veritatis

The Truth will set you free!  I am the way, the light and the Truth!  Do you promise to tell the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth?  The Truth, you couldn’t handle the Truth.

Why are we searching for the Truth?  Are we really searching for the Truth or is this a lie we perpetuate so that we can sound noble?  Or are we deceiving ourselves like the fools that we send on a “snipe” hunt, looking for a mythical being that does not exist.  Is this thing called Truth the Holy Grail or is it an illusion, a phantasmagoria that so called wise men have set over us to keep us mystified and confused.   Does anyone really know what the Truth is?  Does anyone really care?

Perhaps we can find the Truth by using some examples and working backwards from them to discern what this esteemed creature we call Truth really is?

Let’s start with a mathematical truth.   2+2=4.  

Here it would appear we have found one Truth.  We can demonstrate this, we can replicate this and it is the same in China as it is in Honduras.  It is even useful.  Based on such a simple Truth we can build computers or balance a budget or send a human being to the moon.  So if we have found Truth, why are we still searching?  What is it humans need to know that mathematics is not good for?  “An easy answer, this is I think” says Yoda.  We want to know who murdered the butler.  When will it rain next?  What is the meaning of life?  Will I marry a rich man or a poor man?  What career field should I go into?  The list of questions that cannot be answered by mathematics is legion, thus we continue to seek Truth to other questions that the mathematicians cannot solve.

In our quest for Truth, we turn to philosophy, religion, sociology, history, anthropology, psychology and even astrology.   But all are found wanting.  Ministers, gurus, professors, liars, cheats and management consultants all are willing to tell us the Truth for a price, a fee, a commission or a donation, but their answers still leave us searching for the Truth.  Why?  Is it simply a question of bad methods or bad teachers?  The human race has been searching for the Truth since before Diogenes started searching for an honest man and still we find humans searching, searching, searching.  From sweat lodges, to Zen Centers, to religious revival meetings, to a large bottle of brandy, we find a plethora of means to find Truth.  But the next day, Truth seems to have fled.  Few of us have ever captured Truth for more than a fleeting moment.  Let’s try another example of Truth that I have heard quoted many times.

“What wisdom is there that is greater than kindness?” — J. J. Rousseau

In this moving quote, Rousseau suggests that human emotions are more powerful that wisdom, knowledge and facts about the world.  The person who wins at Trivia Pursuit may lose at life.  The person who achieves vast stores of diamonds, gold and jewels may be the most impoverished person on earth without the touch of a human heart.  The most powerful ruler on earth is powerless when confronted by a human tear.  Kindness is a universal that moves the world.  Progress is made by kindness not by wisdom.  But is this the Truth we are all seeking?  Is this Truth enough to guide the world?  Judging by the dearth of kindness in so many of us, it would seem to be a difficult truth to hold onto.  And a Truth should be absolute, no exceptions, something we can all agree on.  This quote, despite being quite profound, would not seem to meet the criteria we need for the Truth.   Let’s try another example.

 “Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone – we find it with another”.  – Thomas Merton

Merton, a noted Jesuit theologian reflects the Christian belief in the importance of love in our lives.  Love yourself.  Love your neighbor.  Love one another.  Love your enemy.  Love those you do not even know.  Love is the single most important commandment of God and Jesus.  If you love others, your soul will be saved.  Love is the most important element of Christianity.  Such a simple Truth!  Why then are so many still seeking.  The Truth seems to be staring us in the face or is love like a diet?  Most people start on a diet only to lose a little weight and then gain it back again.  So we love a neighbor for a while and then go back to being greedy, selfish and mean-spirited?   Then we start seeking again for a new diet or a new path to love?  Perhaps a new person or a new job or a new place will help us find love?  Truth becomes an eternal search for love and not a set of absolute values that we can never lose.  Like the next diet, we are continually searching for something that we cannot hold onto, but everyone tells us is good for us.

So, is Truth an eternal infinite concept that permeates the universe and our humble lives and one we still have not found?  Or is Truth just a process.  The eternal search for something that we cannot hold onto; an elusive idea that just as soon as we think we have it, we inevitably begin to lose.  And so our search for Truth starts all over again.

I ponder the many mysteries of existence.  I quake at the problems in life I cannot solve.  I stress over the mundane trivial issues that confront me daily.  Then deep in the recesses of my mind, I start thinking about Truth.  What is Truth?  Where will I find it?  How long must I seek?  Can I find a shortcut?  Is anyone out there who really knows the Truth?  What will I do with it, if and when I find it?

In a short while, it’s time to watch a movie and forget about my search for Truth.  It will rear its head again all too shortly.  The local news will play it on endless reruns, lawyers on TV will adamantly declare that they have found it, Radio talking-heads will proclaim it nightly to their rapt and conscientious listeners, Wall Street brokers will sell it to you for a price and Madison Avenue pitchman will give you exclusive rights for no money down and low monthly payments.  Search no further, Truth is yours to be had for the right fee.  It won’t matter if you don’t know what it is, it’s cheap and disposable.  Tomorrow you can go out and get some more Truth.

“It’s no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense.”  — Mark Twain

Time for Questions:

What does Truth mean to you?  Do you always tell the Truth?  What Truth is most important to you?  Have you found Truth or lost it?  Do you search for Truth or is Truth irrelevant to you?  When is it relevant?  Why?  Do you see a world with an abundance of Truth or a scarcity of Truth?  Do we need more Truth?

Life is just beginning.

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