Lines in the Sand

Been thinking of the Arizona immigration debacle.

When I’ve traveled abroad, I’ve carried my passport everywhere I’ve gone and submitted to the immigration authorities when I arrived and when I left. I attempt, if I don’t know the language, to learn enough phrases to maneuver. I don’t have a problem with trying to preserve our safety in general and the privileges of citizenship in our country. I don’t even have a problem with establishing English as our national language.

But I do have a problem with the idea of accomplishing any of those things in ways that remove or restrict those privileges without cause on the basis of something I can’t control, like the color of my skin, or my gender or my age or my political or religious preference, all of which at one time or another has stirred great emotion and hatred in some other citizens of our populace.

My problem is the same as the one discussed in my opening blog, the one I have with the contention of the Bible’s inerrancy. We humans, with all our frailties, do not have the perfect knowledge of good and evil. For me, that is the sin, the original sin — that we raised ourselves to believe, like God, we could evaluate absolutely, without fail, the behaviors and motivations of others and deem them good or evil, just or unjust, moral or immoral. And on top of that, we could and should PUNISH others for those behaviors and traits WE deemed evil. We’ve made some rather public mistakes in those judgments. I think of well-known incidents in our histories — big ones like the Crusades and the Salem witchhunts, the Japanese-American internment during WWII — and then I think of little things, like the fact that I’ve been advised in my internet job hunt not to put in the date of my college graduation because it will “give away” the fact that I’m over 50, a crime for which I stand guilty.

The problem for me is that the judgment of others makes us prone to keep secrets. And those secrets make us sick. I know that well, from personal experience, and from the years I spent as a psychotherapist, confessor to some of those secrets, and I know that if we are forced by judgment to spend the majority of our time guarding those secrets, we are prone not to notice the sheer privileges of life and love and relationship and the satisfaction of working hard and working well and seeing our efforts result in something good.

The writer Fritz Buechner has spent his prolific life writing about, in one way or another, the effect on him of keeping his father’s suicide a secret. The opening quote in the popular book Eat, Pray, Love, is simple but profound. “Tell the truth, tell the truth, tell the truth.” This isn’t new — Shakespeare’s plays are filled with lines about secrets — “This above all, to thine own self be true…thou canst not then be false to any man.” and the final line of King Lear, “Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.”

Be real, Jesus said. Get the barrel off your light and let it shine. Help others get the barrel off their lights. Don’t judge, cause you’re just gonna get judged back.

I get that. So, what, pray tell me, is more anti-Christian (or more illogical) than to, by our imperfect judgment, force others to withhold truths about themselves because they will be punished for the answer?

And how can we, with straight faces, proclaim to have a God-given right to draw lines in the sand on strips of earth that belong to us only in our misguided minds?

Just a thought.

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One thought on “Lines in the Sand

  1. <html><head><style type=’text/css’>p { margin: 0; }</style></head><body><div style=’font-family: Arial; font-size: 12pt; ‘>Vally,<br>The vast majority of people I’ve known in business aren’t&nbsp; particularly fearful.&nbsp; But they must assess the environment they operate in in order to maintain the viability of their companies.&nbsp; They have a responsibility to do this for their employees, customers, the governments who live on the taxes they generate, their communities and their stockholders.&nbsp; It would be more to the point if you substituted "uncertainty" for fear.<br><br>After pulling in their horns during a recession businesses gingerly add employees when the turnaround starts.&nbsp; The hiring spreads and gradually ramps up the economy into an expansion.&nbsp; This time around, though, employers are particularly unwilling to take the risk.&nbsp; The health care situation is fraught with costs and mandates that keep dripping out and some of them will be very costly.&nbsp; The financial reform law is already having an impact in restraining&nbsp; lenders who are concerned about being pilloried for violating regulations – an regulators – when the new rules largely haven’t even be formulated yet.&nbsp; The unbelievable deficit will – if and when the economy perks up – result in massive inflation.&nbsp; I lived through the last big inflation in the 70’s and that, in itself, is an element that makes it difficult to manage.&nbsp; What’s coming down the road will dwarf those times.<br><br>In the meantime, the government insists on raising demands on government spending by allowing illegals in to use education, health care and other services.&nbsp; It’s just another element in a nonsensical set of laws and policies.&nbsp; Consumers seem to sense this and aren’t spending.&nbsp; The lack of consumer confidence in itself is a warning to the business community not to hire because demand for their output isn’t there.<br><br>I have no problem with police officers asking for identification.&nbsp; When you get pulled over the first thing the cop <br><span>does is ask for your license.&nbsp; Legal immigrants are already required to carry their green card.&nbsp; If you’re a legal citizen and show your license, no problem.&nbsp; If you’re a legal immigrant, and show your green card, no problem.&nbsp; Unless you think it’s a good idea to overload our system with people who disobey the rules, I just don’t see why this is a big deal.<br><br>We already have a police state, but people who aren’t involved in industry may not realize it.&nbsp; I was in a heavy industry for 30 years.&nbsp; OSHA, EPA, IRS agents or those of various federal, state and municipal governments show up offering the threat of fines or jail time for violations of arcane rules that (1) you may not even be aware of and (2) are often subject to interpretation.&nbsp; As the Wall Street Journal put it twenty years ago, business people can’t get out of bed without being in violation of something.&nbsp; It’s gotten a lot worse since then,&nbsp; and, unless you’ve been directly impacted by it,&nbsp; you have no idea of the high-handedness of agents or the stupidity of many of the regulations they enforce.&nbsp; Collectively this type of thing has driven up costs and driven companies to leave the U.S., which is why we only have a vestige of our manufacturing economy left.&nbsp; I’ve got to stop going down this road – this stuff still infuriates me even though I’ve been out of the industry for six years. <br><br>You mentioned the Japanese internment camps, which were solely race-based.&nbsp; I just don’t understand why I keep hearing about&nbsp; everything being race-based.&nbsp; Our generation has worked to root out the racism of the past, and I think we’ve done a good job of it.&nbsp; You can’t get rid of all of it, but I think if you spoke to my kids or their peers – who are multicolored – you’d find that they’re not carrying the racial baggage we were brought up with.&nbsp; <br><br>But&nbsp; I’ve gotten to the point where I see widespread prejudice out there I wasn’t aware of.&nbsp; It’s the prejudice of people who apparently believe that race is a huge issue among mainstream whites.&nbsp; Most of us, myself included, have black friends and don’t spend time&nbsp; thinking about it, never mind acting on some racial agenda.&nbsp; This is apparently a new racism where whites are unfairly accused of harboring beliefs and attitudes that aren’t supported by their actions. <br></span><br>What do you think about this?<br><br>Chet<br></div></body></html>

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