Immigrants, Christian Values, Pessimism

In Europe, there were indentured servants and after industrialization, working masses. In Asia, the untouchables, the geishas, and the many other oppressed. In this country, we used to have slaves. We still have an underclass of struggling blacks (and whites). Yes, women also were (are) an underclass most everywhere in the “civilized” world. But perhaps the true underclass in the US now is the illegal worker including the migrant worker. They are easy to abuse, despise, deport, look down on. They are not really like us. They look different – shorter, sun-burnt, more worn out, and they often don’t speak English. They, or their parents, broke the law. And in the free-market system, they get paid “fair” wages – the wages that people are willing to pay them. If that wage is not enough to live in decent housing and keep kids steadily in school, well tough luck. They should go back to their country. Right?

My problem is that I know they are like us. They want to make a better life for themselves and their children. They want stability and fair wages. They love their kids and want to help their parents. They are human. They just had the poor foresight of being born into countries with corrupt or dysfunctional governments, into societies with even more dismal opportunities.

I know that we cannot just open up the borders and let all immigrants come in. Uncontrolled immigration would, I suppose, destroy this country or bring it down to the point at which it would no longer be attractive for immigrants.  

But I also don’t think it’s right to treat people or look the other way knowing that people are treated the way illegal or poorly educated legal immigrants are. The Bible says and, I believe, most Christian denominations agree that the most important message of Jesus Christ is about love. It says (in the New International Version, according to www.biblegateway.com) that “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13.4-7.). There is also “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31). I am not a Christian, and I wasn’t raised Christian or (in any other religion for that matter), yet I was taught to live exactly by rules that the Bible here sums up.

It does not fit in my mind, how a country that is on the face of it profoundly religious (much more so than similarly developed countries in Europe) stands for policies that promote or at least allow the mistreatment of people guilty of no more than striving for a decent life. I understand even less how come that the religious right – the ultra-religious – stand the strongest for policies that do so. How do their policies on the military, against gays and immigrants jibe with the most profound teachings of their religion? What do their ministers preach from their pulpits?

Is it inevitable that a class of people have to struggle, no matter the era, the century, the country? Is it inevitable that as one class of people (blacks, women, gays) earn protections, discrimination goes on for other groups? Is it impossible for modern civilization to rise above the shame of every civilization that has come before it? Is it inherent in the human condition that one man’s fortune is always another (dozen’s) misfortune?

 

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10 comments to Immigrants, Christian Values, Pessimism

  • itaest

    Great article, AnnaEszter!

    Unfortunately, some but not all people who grow up with a religion, become too proud and try to distance themeselves from the non-believers and believers in other gods and become very judgemental. At that point they ignore the teachings of their deities or religious teachers and create their own beliefs that are rooted in egoism and bigotry, but because they are "with God", they think they are entitled to their distorted beliefs and that these are "superior" to that of others.

    You will notice that it is the same people who discriminate against immigrants, who also discriminate against gays, against black people, against Jews or muslims, etc.

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    • AnnaEszter

      Hi Itaest!
      I think you're right that religion becomes the identity. People are right because they are who they are, at least that is what they believe. It's also true that these groups seem to hate any group that threatens their way of thinking.
      But other groups also discriminate.

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  • BC

    Anna – nicely written.  Immigration is what has made the US so strong over the centuries, but the truth is immigrants have always been discriminated against – nothing new here.  And such discrimination is far worse in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
     
    So while much needs improvement in the US – I think we're doing it better than most others.
     
    What must also be analyzed is why Mexico treats their poor so badly and Mexico is not a poor country.  Or look at how Mexico treats Central American immigrants.
     
    On the religious bit – the US is a secular republic – not a theocracy so don't lump us all in with the nutters.  This being said they are a very powerful group and I think you're spot on when you note they've lost touch with the true meaning of their religion.
     
    As for mankind – we need to raise our level of consciousness or we will be back in the stone age before we know it.  We are all one and connected – no one is different.  And when you screw those that have the least – you are also screwing yourself, but don't realize it.
     
     

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    • itaest

      You wrote "raise our level of consciousness", that's from a meditation lesson, right? I am asking because I just started with some meditation lessons.

      Did you see AnnaEszter's reply to your comment below?

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      • BC

        Never studied meditation rather have done it on my own.  And there are many ways to meditate beyond the classic sitting in the lotus position.
         
        I meditate when I swim, bike, etc.  My thought on the need to raise consciousness is as follows…
         
        I don't think one can legislate morality so to get better behavior entails changing one person at a time.
         
        I would break raising consciousness down into what is right in general/spiritual advancement and as per what works pragmatically.
         
        Pragmatically, as a species we have a very high level of technology and population levels are high + we're all connected globally bumping into one another competing for resources.
         
        When you add the excessive greed plaguing the planet to this it's an accident waiting to happen.  In a nutshell, our advanced weapons ultimately get used without compassion for the least in terms of making sure all have enough.
         
        The root cause of terrorism is poverty.  There will always be extremists, but they will have few adherents when people have enough.  Extremists manipulate the suffering of the poor to gain power and this generally entails violence.  To be certain religion, TV, nationalism are also used to manipulate people.
         
        Maximum stability is achieved by maximal participation in commerce as when too many have nothing or not enough one will have problems. 
         
        Logically we need to raise consciousness to achieve stability.  Spiritually we need to do this as it is the right thing to do, but all because this is how one advances their soul and the souls of those around them.
         
        Root cause of most if not all negative behavior is fear from which greed, envy, etc. all stem.  So the only way we can move forward as a species is for people to act the right way out of understanding/knowing rather than out of fear or legislation.
         
        On another level we are all connected and one, yet the biggest illusion is that we are separate.  When more understand we are one then people won't be apt to screw those with less because they will understand to do so is to screw themselves, but one wants to get past behaving well out of self interest rather peopleshould do the right thing without thinking about it – kind of like a reflex.
         
        This is where we need to go behavior wise.
         
         

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      • BC

        Ita – take fear based religions.  Stealing/other is labeled a sin and therefore many people avoid it out of fear of punishment or damnation rather than out of understanding/knowing.  The person that does not steal out of understanding has learned much more than the person that avoids it out of fear.
         
        We need to move away from fear on the planet and if we don't the global economy will become very bad and even collapse.  And this is when you get very bad war and usage of nasty weapons.
         
        All problems are fixable, but to do this entails enough having the right mindset – particularly in leadership.
         
         

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        • itaest

          Hey BC, I like your philosophical musings in your comments on this page. I have heard similar opinions recently from friends and from books I am reading. What I think is that the Internet is helping many more people (than we think) embrace a more concious and connected mindset. The lunatics will also find their garbage content online, like those white supremacist web sites, but I believe that is a minority (albeit a dangerous one).

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          • BC

            Ita – like most tech the internet is a double edged sword.  It's great for enabling people to voice their opinions in a world controlled by corporate media/interests, but as you have noted it also allows nutters/extremists to mix.
             
            The good thing is they can be watched.  If you wish to read a cool book – pick up "The Prophet" by Khalil Gibran.  You probably can also read this online.
             
            B

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  • AnnaEszter

    Hi BC,
    Oh sure! Others abuse their minorities and some even "their own people" much worse. But don't we have higher expectations for our country? :)
    I didn't mean to suggest that all Christians are anti-immigrant or anything of the sort. Also, ambiguity is part of every human being, whether Christian or not, lefty or righty. It's just that some ambiguities stand out sharper than others (depending on where you stand I guess). The one between conservative Christian values and anti-immigrant hatred stands out as a whopper to me.
     

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    • BC

      Sure we should have higher expectations and you will note in my initial response that I said he have room for improvement.  Political parties like to get people hooked on small to medium sized issues so that they don't focus on larger issues.
       
      Immigration certainly costs money, but is a rounding error in comparison to the cost of Iraq/Afghanistan or our out of control deficit spending.
       
      A lot of Christians in this country have lost the true meaning of the religion and the most glaring example as of late was the war with Iraq.

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