As I mentioned in an alternate post, I’m currently down in Arkansas visiting my in-laws. I’ve been watching a lot of Fox News as a result. I’m not going to pretend this is a novelty because the same is true when I’m visiting my own parents in California.
There are a number of things I have heard on the network I could pick an argument over, but the one sound bite that really pissed me off was “You don’t just get to show up and get in.”
I can handle a lot of conservative arguments against illegal aliens, but this comment was just so blatantly ignorant of its own hypocrisy. Last I checked, all I did was show up, as in, I was born here. Sure, my parents are US citizens who paid taxes, but I’m by no means a Native American. If you go back in my family tree far enough you’re going to find that some Italian immigrant got on a boat one day and came to America. The only difference being that when my ancestors did so, there wasn’t a complex system of laws blocking them. I seriously doubt that they had to apply for a visa.
My point is this, if you want to make the argument that you don’t want to pay for health care, food or shelter (whatever it may be), I have no qualms. B-U-T don’t pretend that you did something special or deserving to get here. That argument is a waste of breath unless you were originally a non-citizen who went through all the proper legal channels to get your citizenship. Note: I specified you. As in, one of your ancestors didn’t do all the work for you. Don’t convince yourself you stand on your own two feet and then make a reference to something your parents or grandparents did that means you are entitled to something. The fact of the matter is that it had nothing to do with you. You were just lucky.
The funny thing is that I got to have an experience this week that made for a good analogy of illegal immigration. Yesterday three abandoned puppies showed up on our doorstep. They are freaking adorable, though flea ridden, malnourished, and destined to die in the woods if we didn’t help them. They looked like they had been abandoned in the backcountry for about a week before finding us. Within a matter of hours, we’d built them a stall in the barn, fed them, gone to the store and bought them collars, flea/tick treatment, deworming medication, and puppy food.
It isn’t nearly as expensive as three human children and I know that, but we’d just made the decision to provide food, medical coverage, clothing, housing, and yes, education (training), to 3 living things that weren’t our responsibility. And yes, we did this despite the fact that there are plenty of abandoned puppies in our home state of Washington.
Now if I am being honest. My wife takes on these sorts of projects all the time. Usually I am not present when the decision needs to be made. I go along, but secretly wish my wife had just not involved herself. She is a saint, I am not. I spent half the time worrying about the fleas and ticks getting into the house and infesting the family dog, let alone myself, whenever I picked one of the dogs up.
Still, this time I would have had to have been party to shooing puppies back into the woods and off the property. I don’t think I could of done it even though its what my brain said to do. Makes one starkly aware that it’s a lot easier to have an opinion about not helping a living thing in need when one doesn’t have to look into its desperate face and say “get out.”
This isn’t meant to be an argument that the US should pay for every hand that needs help. Its just food for thought, a reminder that eventually you’ll have to see what you’d do in a real situation where a child might need your help. I’m not going to pretend I never walked by a homeless man with his hand out, not going to say if the puppies hadn’t been freaking adorable things might not have been different, I’m just writing what I’m experiencing. Frankly, if it hadn’t been for that irritating comment on Fox News I probably wouldn’t have even drawn the connection.
The puppies keep wrenching my heart. Last night they wouldn’t stop whining unless we were in the room with them. Then, once I sat in a chair beside them, they’d sleep. Makes me wonder if they have been alone in the woods for the last week afraid to ever really close their eyes because there was nothing to shelter them from all the things out there that wanted to eat them.
I keep wondering what it would be like to be a parent that couldn’t save his or her children. I wonder how quickly a thing like a country’s laws would become utterly irrelevant to me if I were in that situation. It doesn’t change the reality, it doesn’t mean you can save everyone, but I think one could at least make a conscious effort not to villainize the desperate.