I recently read one of those chain emails telling me how I should be ashamed of myself if I didn’t forward it on. In defense of the person who sent it to me, he didn’t send it because of any sense shame he would have if he didn’t forward it, but as part of a discussion we were having about the topic of the chain email, illegal immigration.He was sharing the email to show some of the ideas in the email as similar to his own, with the qualification that his own views are less harsh and confrontational.
I don’t want to criticize my friend. He is a great lover of freedom and one of the kindest people I know. I do, however, want to discuss something that was brought to my attention with the email he sent.
Despite, and actually probably because of receiving the basics of my formal educated in the public education system, my wife and I choose to home-school our children. If not the most logical and well thought out argument, by far the most frequent argument against home-schooling is the question, “What about their social skills?”
Now I’m not going to argue about how ridiculous that question is in this post or on this blog, but one social phenomenon that I experienced and somewhat actively participated in while I was in High School, that my children will probably never have the opportunity to experience, is the phenomenon of school pride.
This phenomenon has never been more prevalent than when I was at a High School sporting event, where anyone representing another school was considered “the enemy.” I have never been so prone to poor sportsmanship and exhibited more acts for which I am ashamed than when I was motivated by school pride. However, I have also never aspired to be a greater me and do more good for the world than when I was motivated by school pride either.
At the urging of my wife, I recently watched the first few minutes of first episode ofHBO’s show “The Newsroom.” There was enough profanity and vulgar language in the first few minutes that I knew I didn’t want to watch even the rest of the episode, let alone anymore of the series. However, in the first several minutes I also heard something that caused me to think. Will McAvoy, played by Jeff Daniels, when asked, “Can you say why America is the greatest country in the world?” his first answer is “the New York Jets.” After the host/mediator pressed him to give a more real answer it eventually led to a monologue about how America is not the greatest country in the world, but it used to be. He argues that, at present, America leads the world in only three categories:
- Number of incarcerated citizens per capita
- Number of adults who believe angels are real
- Defense spending, where we spend more than the next 26 countries combined, 25 of whom are allies
He then goes on about how America used to do things for moral reasons and that we used to accomplish great things. We cultivated some of the world’s greatest artists and the world’s greatest economy. We didn’t identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last election, and we weren’t afraid to stand up for what we believed.
It is the mentality implied by the question of the college student – that America is the greatest country in the world – and how that mentality enters into the debate about immigration, that I wish to discuss.
I am proud to be an American. I love the US Constitution and the principles upon which it is based. Every American citizen has a lot to be proud of, not because America is “better” than other nations, but because America has and does accomplish many great things.
The problem with the whole debate about illegal immigration, is that it has become more about national pride and cultural differences than about seeking to become great as a people and individually. Rather than being thankful that there are people whose culture enables them to work at the jobs that most American adults would never do because of the low pay, we complain about how the “illegal immigrants” are taking jobs away from hardworking Americans. Instead of being thankful for the diversity and strong family culture that many Hispanic people bring to America, we complain about how they have several families sharing the same house.
All of the problems that are brought up about illegal immigration are a red herring for what is really wrong with our country. Mr. McAvoy describes what is wrong with our country, when he said at the end of his monologue, speaking of the great things that American has done in the past, “We could be all these things – do all these things because we were informed – by great men – men who were revered.” We are no longer informed by great men. We spend our discretionary money and free time on entertainment and junk food more than on anything else. The average American spends 4 hrs per day focusing on entertainment.
What is really wrong with the immigration policy in this nation is that it is bogged down with bureaucratic paperwork and red tape to the extent that it takes several years for someone to get here legally, unless it’s politically expedient for someone’s re-election campaign that they be approved quickly. Another problem is that we are too justice minded when it comes to punishing those who get here illegally. Yes, it is important that they follow the rules, for the same reasons that it is important that everyone obey the speed limit.
The solution to what is really wrong with our country is to get back to what made us great in the first place – being informed participants in keeping our Federal, state, county, and city governments in check. We need to learn how to strengthen our family relationships from the people who come here from the country on our southern border, and we need to invest our money and free time on something other than making sure our entertainment technology is state of the art; not because of any real harm that is done by most of the people who break the rules, but because the rule of law, rather than the will of a monarch or aristocracy, is what has made this country one of the most free and prosperous in the world. Ask yourself if you would be open to being punished to the full extent of the law for every infraction of the speed limit you have made, or if you are grateful for the amnesty you are given by the officer who just gives you a warning.