WATCHING AMERICA ON TV

7/11/13                            

 

                                                                              WATCHING AMERICA ON TV

 

    We are astonishingly fortunate.  On July Fourth of this year, millions of Americans could tune in to see the result of the American experiment.

    1776 was being played again and again in real time, only now in a far-off lands which had chosen to buy into the hope called American democracy.   Better, or worse for those who had died fighting, other nations – besides France in the late 18th century – have succumbed to the charms, dangers, or problems of democracy they witness on these shores.

     Our own revolution is often painted as one of the upper classes, the landed, wealthy successful men who felt their labors were being unfairly taxed and unappreciated.  But it could not have succeeded had not the “man in the street” felt much the same way.

    These new African revolutions are being fostered only by the “man in the street.”  The rich, visible, entrepreneurs who had thrived under “benevolent” dictatorships have long since left their own countries and taken their riches with them, to throw the real estate markets around the world into chaos.

      What we hope, as we watch, is that Americans themselves realize the continuing strength of the “American dream.”  A lot of this dreaming is just that, dreaming.  But the greater share of this enthusiasm for freedom is real.

    “Your tired, poor, hungry…”

    A lot has changed since the Statue of Liberty was placed in New York Harbor, including provisions for speedier entry for people who are not poor, tired and hungry.    But there are still more supplicants who do fit that description than not.  These are people in need, who also need to believe their lives can be changed by living here.

     Some statistics indicate that in each US square mile, only 32 people live.  Flying westwards, over the Midwest and the Rocky Mountains, we look down on thousands of

unoccupied acres.  Some of this land is arable, some not.  But it seems to me there is plenty of room to absorb thousands more men and women who, legally or not, have landed on our shores and want only to be able to work, to feed their families, to dream.

      Should recent illegal entrants be rewarded for sliding under barbed wire, being smuggled in via ships and “coyotes,” set loose to seek family members who might be able to put them up and lend them aid until they get started on their own?  Probably not.  But here they are, here they come, here they still want to come.

    That drive is what makes democracy so worth fighting for: the ability to live as one wishes, ideally causing harm to none, worshipping as they will, seeing their offspring grown and educated and climbing a thousand different ladders to success.

    No matter how securely our country is wrapped against the “tired, poor, and hungry,” it’s never going to be tight enough.  There will, as long as the country stands, always be hordes of “dreamers,” who will take any chance, including that causing injury and even death, to break into this wondrous land.   And therefore, since they are here already, the rest of us have to deal with them.

     Since arrival cannot mean automatic citizenship, and instead often means harder times than could possibly have been imagined, what can we do to foster these believers’ desires?

     Our roads diverge.  Is it country we love, or political party?

     Can’t it be both?
As a nation of immigrants, we need more immigrants to continue to grow and prosper.  We need workers for jobs Americans no longer want; we need volunteers for the Armed Forces; we need untapped talent in all realms to build our economy and ensure for ourselves a continuing life of exploration and growth. 

     These people mostly threaten no one.  And as the country changes — with 11 million men and women having children at a faster rate than the traditional Protestant clans — we can see the future.  And if we want it, the future, to be as harmonious as our past, we have to learn to include them, meaningfully.

     If we want to stand on our village greens and watch fireworks every July Fourth, how much healthier for us to envision the nation growing than the nation stagnant, losing international influence, adrift as so often we seem to be.  In the first instance we have something to look forward to.  In the second, nothing but memories.

     I prefer looking outwards and forward, and regardless of what small gesture Congress makes in resolving “the immigration issue,” I can only hope that it is sufficient to keep Lady Liberty’s torch high enough above the mobs beseeching, as they are right now in Egypt, on July Fifth.

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3 thoughts on “WATCHING AMERICA ON TV

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