Thursday, June 3, 2010

This Land is MY Land

What's yours is yours, but more importantly, what's mine is mine. Quite the antithesis of the Golden Rule, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. However, the former credo seems to be so much more central on our minds and our tongues. It features regularly in our local and national headlines.

Years ago, I knew a Christian man that was humble, decent, honest, hardworking, and honorable. He and I started a conversation one evening after we had just watched a news story about immigrants in the United States. People who had found their way into "our" country, whether legally or illegally. When I tried to explain that everyone in our country is an immigrant in one form or another, including the "Native" Americans, he became incensed with what I can only term righteousness, or better yet self-righteousness. He started spewing and spitting about rounding all of the dirty, stinky, criminals up and literally push them out to sea. When I tried to reason with him, he became all the more unreasonable. In a reference that he would have totally missed, I could hear him channeling the rednecks on South Park, "They took our jobs!! Dey turk er jerbs!!" How could a loving, God-fearing man be reduced to uttering such pablum?

Today we face similar points of view on a much larger scale with the immigration law that has been put into effect in Arizona. However, this polarizing story has two very thorny sides.

(A) The derth of individuals entering into the United States illegally from across the Mexican border is overwhelming the capacity and the resources of many Arizona communities. They take jobs, don't pay taxes, can't afford to live here, and are much more likely to engage in criminal activities than those who are citizens.

(B) We are a caring society that does its best to welcome all who come to our country. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shores ...

The issue of giving law enforcement the authority to hassle and inconvenience individuals based upon how they look is a very slippery slope. Given even recent world history (c. 1940), we have an idea of where this type of mentality can lead us. However, the breaking of our laws is not free of consequences on several levels.

Now, I don't have any answers or suggestions on how to proceed or even informed opinions on what should be a better way to move forward. I just know that the ideology of both the (A)s and the (B)s is flawed. There has to be a better way. There just has to be.