For years I prided myself on the ability to express an opinion on any topic presented to me. After all, one can always change their opinion if the opposing argument becomes more persuasive. So pick a side and debate it- don’t argue, but debate, discuss and decide. Determine the strength and validity of your side and what side you should be on. Whatever you do at least pick a side. As years pass I find myself much less likely to debate realizing that most people don’t understand what constitutes a debate and they only know how to argue and fight about a topic, making personal attacks instead of attacking the point. Conversations morph from discussions into battles and I find myself shrinking from the fight where I once threw myself in with abandon not caring about casualties. Furthermore, age forces me to understand how complicated topics can be and all of this ends with my being reluctant to form, more or less express, an opinion. As a former political science major this is most distressing.
The reason that I bring this up tonight: the Immigration debate and President Obama’s announcement. Don’t get started about the legality or right or wrong of his decision to act as he has, I do actually have an opinion about that, but that is not the topic I want discussed or debated. I want to discuss Immigration for I find I cannot create an opinion on my own.
Let me start with one side.
I am going to Europe. There are places in Europe that I would love to stay for an extended period. However European law, as discussed in a previous post, only allows me to stay for three months before becomes illegal and they kick me out. As that is the case I plan on leaving. However, let us say, that instead I decide that Switzerland is for me. After all, they have great medical coverage, they tend to be a peaceful nation, and they have the highest personal income rate of any other nation. Well my goodness- that is better than it is here in the States isn’t it?So I think that I will take myself into that country, hide away and stay put. After a few years of living there, or even after many many years, let’s say they find me. Do I now have the right to stay? To insist that this is my nation and it is not fair to kick me out? They must grant me citizenship because I decided to make this my home? I knew better. I knew that it was illegal. I knew the rules and I ignored them. I may even have had a kid there. But I still knew better. Is this right because of the argument that it is better place to live? Or that I already made my way there?
Or how about past history. As President Obama said, and many have said, this is a nation of immigrants and will always be. How awesome! My grandparents were immigrants on both sides throughout the span of America becoming colonized. I am so grateful, incredibly grateful, that they came here. I love the United States and it is an incredible opportunity. But they came here legally (well maybe not the first ones who came here and took land from the Native American’s- but that too is another topic). And when they came to Ellis Island they could have been shipped home without any lawyers or protests or any arguments from anyone in the states. In fact sending someone back to their country was completely acceptable. Not pleasant but that is what happened and only certain people were accepted as citizens of this country. What happened to the idea of coming in legally? What happened to the idea that it is okay to send someone back or to not accept them in? What happened to the people in this country understanding that or taking responsibility for their actions? Do we not care about the law at all in this country any more?
What happened to the distinction between immigration and illegal aliens? And are we a country that wants people who break the law from the start to be here?
Off of that last point and on to the other side.
On a horrible day in my life, the day that my aunt died, an aunt that I was very close to, I took myself into Provo Canyon with my version of comfort food to sit by the water and try to deal with the affects. There I sat, by myself, crying when I felt a tap on my shoulder. A young woman stood there and invited me to share a meal with her family. We had never met, and she was as unfamiliar to me as I was to her, but seeing my distress she reached out to me. Most of her family could not talk to me as they did not speak the language. Instead she translated key things, or left her family out, as she, her husband and I discussed our lives, future plans, as well as many other topics. They came here illegally trying to create a future for their family. Her act kindness changed me. Her story changed me. She demonstrated, in a small deed, the type of person I want to be. I remember her son needed swim lessons, and at the time I was a swim coach and I wanted to teach him. To give him that opportunity. He did deserve it. Her whole family worked very hard. Lots of hours and in difficult positions so that he would have a great life and I wanted that for them. True Americans who understood the value of living here.
So what to do? Do we kick out grandmothers? The elderly? Do we just drop them off and say fend for yourself- you came here illegally so tough? It doesn’t matter that you have given your life up to live here, and have done so without crime, because you wanted the best for your kids. Is that right? Is it acceptable to tear lives and families apart for the sake the law? Because of what is written on a piece of paper? To ruin hopes,futures, and the very american dream that created this country? These are people’s lives and they are not going from the US to Switzerland, they are going from deep despair to great hope. They are going from lives that I have only read or heard about, never truly experienced, to something that should be available to all the world if the world was fair. And that is the problem- the world is not fair. So what to do? How to be compassionate but still follow the law. Law and order are key to any society maintaining a level of safety and prosperity. So we cannot reasonably compromise the law too much or we risk our own country falling into chaos. Laws can change but how would you change this? And we cannot flood the country with people where we cannot keep up with the people coming in. So what to do? Honor the law and all it represents, or to honor peoples who have fought for something better? Do we or do we not force them to leave?
No. And Yes. And forming an opinion on this is tearing me apart and this is only one topic.
Please answer. Answer with thoughts, opinions, facts, stories. Help me decide. Help me as at least pick a side.
One last thought of my own. Is there a side or is this just one of the many horrible gray areas of life.
(As always, please excuse any typos or grammar errors. I am writing this in passion not for grade in school and have not edited it.)
Love you all- remember to debate and not to fight – peace wins the day 🙂