Category Archives: Immigration

Us vs. Me

 

illustration-of-human-evolution-ending-with-smart-phone-resize

“Wait, I need to take a selfie!”

Far too many events today are due to decisions by people who think only of themselves.

This is unnatural.

The hermit, alone in his cave, has always been an idiosyncratic caricature. The word hermit is derived from the word for desert or desert dweller. Deserts are not particularly attractive to people who depend on hunting and gathering. Deserts are more successful as after the invention of are air-conditioned houses and refrigerated food trucks. (Casinos, although optional, seem inevitable.)

Humans from earliest times sought out one another.  Our ancestors, the Homo erectus, (stop thinking dirty thoughts–it refers to having the ability to stand upright) or Homo sapiens neanderthalensis  tended to keep their families together, eventually becoming tribes. Some believe that the reason that there are no identifiable descendants of the Neanderthals is because the two groups combined and interbred, ultimately resulting in us, Homo sapiens.

We belong together, but sometimes are reluctant to admit it. As such, in order to survive and prosper, we must look at things in terms of the common good. Life is not a zero-sum game (if I win, you lose). It is a life-or-death struggle in which WE win or lose.

I could wax poetic for another 300 pages, which I might enjoy, but WE, as a totality, would not, so I’ll stop.

* Links courtesy of Wikipedia. If you use Wikipedia, then use PayPal to send them a few bucks–better yet, a few bucks a month.

My How Things Change

The United States Constitution is a marvelous document–a framework for what was a radically new form of government in 1787–but a living document that has changed with the times.

TheNationalArchivesholdstheUnitedStatesConstitutionOriginalDocument

And the times have so changed.

Legend has it that, during the war, a British military commander sent a note addressed to ‘Mr. George Washington.’ General Washington accepted the note and placed it in his pocket saying that he was aquainted with Mr. Washington, who was a planter in Virginia, and he would deliver the note after the war. The next day, a similar–and possibly identical note–was sent, addressed to ‘General George Washington.’

After the war, General Washington appeared before the Continental Congress to return his commission to them. He had done his duty, and no longer needed or wanted the rank of general and handed the paperwork that had made him a general back.

Initially, there was a populist movement to make Washington king. He would have no part of that. There is a place in the Capitol Building that was intended to be his crypt, but he had left clear instructions that precluded his internment there.

Often, he closed his correspondence with “Your obdt (obedient) servant, George Washington.”

Regardless of your political views, it is reassuring that our nation is not based on birthright, caste, or class, but on a set of ideals laid out in the Constitution. It is a set of ideas that bonds Americans together.

 

The Candidates (Revised)

After being politically correct for the past few weeks (some by omission), here we go.

The Clintons at the Trumps’ 2005 Wedding

 

Now that the presumptive candidates (and, they’re both quite presumptuous, thank you [rim shot—bada-bing]) are in place, the world is beginning to react.

Great Britain: “I say, old chap, do you miss King George the Third yet?”

Vladimir Putin (AKA Russia): “Of course this is all according to my plan, but I assure you that no Russian military troops were involved!”

Mexico: “Here’s our counter offer:

  1. “We are willing to pay to build a wall, but we propose a different—but better—location. The wall would be more beneficial to the citizens of both countries if it were constructed about fifty meters outside the right-hand lane of I-495, thereby encircling Washington, DC. This would help maintain control of politicians’ entry into the United States of America mainland.
  2. “The wall will be funded by charging a toll for travel through the numerous tunnels that already exist under the border between our two countries. Since the tunnels are well-engineered, structurally sound, well lit, and either paved or equipped with rail service, it should be easy to add electronic toll transponders. Of course, after the election, there may be many US citizens who will utilize the tunnels to head south in a search for a more placid place to call home, and they would be responsible for paying the toll as well. Please ensure that the EZ-Pass transponder system deposits the fees into Los Estados Unidos de Mexico National Bank.
  3. “Incidentally, we revised our immigration laws in 2011. If you’d like a copy, you can easily get it online.”

North Korea: “As a gesture of confidence in our future relations, we would be most willing to host any of your e-mail servers. I assure you that the DPRK has many well-trained computer specialists, and we would treat your computer as we would treat one of our own.”

Canada: “Hey! No way, hoser! Take off, ay? There are reasons that we prefer to be neighbors rather than family. We like our prime minister just fine, thank you, since he’s cultured and refined. Besides, our beer is much better than yours!”

The Unintended Consequences of the Parting of the Sea

The Ten Commandments Cecile B. DeMille

The Ten Commandments
Cecile B. DeMille

“Okay, which one of you clowns is Moses?”

I’m kind of busy right now. God told me that I could get water to come forth from this rock.

“You’ve got a real problem with water!”

Not really, God always takes care of us.

“That’s not what I’m talking about. Are you the guy who parted the Red Sea?”

Yes. Pharaoh’s army was pursuing us and through the miracle of the parting of the sea, we escaped and Pharaoh’s army was destroyed.

“Yeah, well Pharaoh’s army is his problem. Frankly I don’t give a hoot about any of them.”

So, then, why did you seek me out?

“Listen, buddy, by parting the Red Sea, it cut off irrigation to some farms and others got extra. We have very stringent water rights treaties, and your little stunt just created havoc. You think figs and dates grow on trees? Well, they do, and those trees need a lot of water. Then there’s grapes; you mess up the grape harvest and I’ll never hear the end of it. Some people get downright nasty when they’re sober. This ain’t no land of milk and honey, you know.”

Actually, that’s where we’re headed.

“Well, good! I want to see you head out into the desert and I’d better not see you again so long as I live. If I start letting people like you mess with the water management, who knows where it will end. Someday there’ll be some place with a goofy name like California trying to get water from some river with an equally goofy name, like Colorado. They’ll thank me for chasing water disrupters like you out into the desert!”

The Truth About Immigrants

Ellis Island osu.edu

Ellis Island
osu.edu

In America it has happened over and over. It happened when the Germans came here and the French. The same with the Irish and the Italians.

You’d think we’d learn, but we don’t.

When a group immigrates, they fumble around for a few years, then figure things out; those who have been here a while teach the tricks to the newcomers.

Then it starts.

They get jobs or start businesses. They pay taxes. The latest immigrants are paying social security taxes to fund the baby boomers. They serve in the military. They become citizens. They become friends and neighbors.

It’s got to stop!

St. Patrick’s Day

Chris Hadfield, Canadian Astronaut, St. Patrick's Day 2013 - International Space Station (Amateur Radio Call VA3OOG)

Chris Hadfield, Canadian Astronaut, St. Patrick’s Day 2013 – International Space Station (Amateur Radio Call VA3OOG)

Forget about the green beer for a moment.

St. Patrick’s Day is a marvelous holiday for one very special reason. Everyone gets to be Irish for that day.

So what?

So many clusters of people spend their time and effort to exclude others, but today, everyone is Irish, so everyone is included.

“Faith and begorrah! Doncha know, tis a fine, fine thing.”

Nowak’s Theorem of Transplantation

Many phenomena are neither inherently good nor bad.

We read of invasive species like zebra mussels, pythons and snakehead fish that overtake an area when they are transplanted with harmful consequences. This is usually attributes to a lack of natural predators.

While I do not refute this, I think there is at least one other dynamic at work that applies – especially to people.

Ellis Island Immingrants archives.gov

Ellis Island Immingrants
archives.gov

As a country of immigrants, America has long been seen as a land of opportunity. People who pack up everything (or next to nothing in some cases) tend to be motivated, so there is some self-selection. However, sometimes the event of being removed from one environment and placed in another has its own effects effects.

Every society has its own challenges – both real and perceived. We all are far too familiar with the shortcomings of where we grow up, and this can predispose us to certain expectation of success or failure. In a new environment, however, since the challenges are unknown, they must be viewed more objectively to be overcome and old biases may not be as overwhelming.

We read of many foreign born Americans who succeed in a wide range of undertakings from advanced academia to small business. Perhaps the change in environment plays a part.

So, my theorem is – “When motivated people move from a familiar environment to an unfamiliar environment they tend to view challenges more objectively allowing them to overcome them and succeed.”

Update on Alex the Parrot

alex

Alex, my pet parrot, is now about four years old. As you may recall, he (she?-it takes a DNA test to tell) is a Quaker Parrot (although, not a practicing Quaker) also called a Monk Parrot (although he doesn’t seemed inclined to Gregorian chant or making brandy.)

The dog and the two cats go through a couple of bags of food each month. They need checkups and shots, anti-flea medicine and licenses. Alex, on the other hand, goes through 2 bags of parrot food per year. I will admit that I take off my good shirts and don an old denim one so he can climb all over me, with minimal damage. He likes my company, and I enjoy his after a long day when I don’t feel like talking.

My point?

Like many people, I view each of my pets as individuals.

On the other hand, it’s far too easy to look at people not as individuals, but in terms of their appearance, attributes, background or whatever.

Weird, huh?

Fresh Sets of Eyes

The comedian Gallagher pointed out that to really understand something you need a fresh set of eyes.  He’d use examples of his daughter’s description of things, such as calling a restaurant a “dinner store.”

We’re in Washington, DC.  As our nation’s capital, it is somewhat surprising to see how cosmopolitan it is.  Take every dialect, every style of clothing, evidence of every religion, mix thoroughly and you have the District.

I’m not naïve, and have seen parking lots covered with the cones the police use to mark bullet casings and other evidence.  That happens with every large city.

But with Washington, the thing that has struck me this trip is talking with the people who are first generation Americans.  There is a common theme.  They came to raise their children – many who were not yet born when they arrived. How they learned the language.  How they learned to coordinate – to fit in without losing themselves and their heritage.

I guess as a melting pot America does not reduce its people to a homogenous consommé, but instead to a rich collection of flavors that contrast with one another.  The spicy with the tart; the savory with the subtle in a wonderful blend.

But the best part is that as we’ve talked to people, so many have expressed a common theme.  They came here – they became Americans because of opportunity.  Not a guarantee or a promise – but a chance.

And then I remembered being told that my own great-grandfather came here from Poland in the 19th century for the same reasons, with the same challenges, and the same dreams.

Part Time Americans

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I got sucked in by one of those online “news stories” that actually was at least 6 months old. The article purported that wealthy Americans were giving up their citizenship to avoid paying taxes particularly on money earned, kept or hidden overseas.

I’ve read that with our progressive tax system about half don’t pay any income tax and/or may receive a credit from the government. Likewise, reports indicate that the top one percent pay 30% of the taxes to the federal government. (I’m not saying these are correct, as Mark Twain reportedly said, “There’s lies, damned lies and statistics.”)

At first I thought it might be worth our while to try to induce these folks to stay around in order to catch the tax revenue, but then I dug a little deeper.

It appears that most of them don’t actually live here. I’m guessing many have dual citizenship, so they’re more like part time Americans.

Since money is more important than their citizenship, I figure they’re at best fair-weather Americans; at worst, American in name only.

I prefer us normal, not wealthy, plain old every day Americans, anyway.

To the rich who are turning in their passports, “Don’t let the bank vault door hit you in ass on your way out!”

There’s Nothing to Write About

Okay, I actually have been very busy with Thanksgiving, setting up the Christmas decorations, soccer tournaments, etc., but I keep looking for something new to write about. In the last month we’ve had elections, economic reports, coups, countercoups, threats, counter threats, but what is really different?

Economists are saying recovery is just around the corner again/still.

The economy is still in the dumper again/still.

Washington is gridlocked again/still.

Lindsay Lohan is in trouble again/still.

Our president is the president again/still.

Everyone says we have to solve the tax / deficit / immigration / jobs / global warming problem again/still.

No one is actually willing to do anything about the tax / deficit / immigration / jobs / global warming problem again/still.

I keep looking for something – anything – that is new enough to inspire me, but, alas, I continue to fail. And I mean really fail. I’ve tried to write another science fiction serial, but there needs to be something, instead of nothing, which is what we’ve got.

(Even the graphic I tried to put here showed up as nothing…..)Fortunately, there is enough nothing to go around. If every American had his fill of nothing every day through the holidays and well into next year, there would still be enough nothing left for future generations.

Wal-Mart considered outsourcing nothing to lower cost Asian and Central American companies, but these emerging economies wanted nothing to do with it.

Jerry Seinfeld already did a television series about nothing, so there’s nothing to be done there.

So we have to ask ourselves, “Is nothing sacred?”

Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

Friday Night

Friday night and I worked late on a business trip and have to work tomorrow. Every night before, I came back to my room and did work. Tonight I had the chance to share dinner with my coworkers. It was good.

In the giant scheme of things, though, it reminds me of a story, which I’m sure I’ll get at least slightly wrong –

The teenager got a job at a fast food restaurant after years of being told how important self-esteem was. When the teen was with grandparents the teen pointed out how the job seemed to be below the teen’s importance.

The grandparents dutifully listened, then passed on their wisdom.

“To you working at a restaurant seems like a demeaning task, but when we came to this country, to us it was an opportunity.”

Australia! Australia! Australia! We Love You. Amen!*

About every four years I suddenly begin to wonder what life in Australia or New Zealand might be like. 

This is one of those years.

 Every four years.

 Isn’t odd how the periodicity is so regular?

 I often listen to National Public Radio (NPR) because they tend to have interesting topics to discuss. For the past month I turn it on hoping against hope that they’ll present something interesting. Something different than what I’m seeing on television, online and even in my sleep.

 Even with my pledge, NPR is not doing their part. Drastic action is called for. (Attention NPR: You do realize I broke my pledge up into 12 monthly segments; there’s a reason for that.)

{Click!}

  “Today, President Obama campaigned…”

{CLICK!}

 “Mitt Romney told reporters…”

{CLICK!}

 “SuperPACs…”

{CLICK!}

 “At a fundraiser…”

{CLICK!}

 Hence my fantasies about Australia and New Zealand.

Terry Gilliam Art from Monty Python’s Flying Circus

Australia has a more “devil may care” cachet, but that’s understandable. The Kiwis (New Zealanders) like to correct us Yanks when we hint that we think Australians and Kiwis are similar. They (correctly) point out that their ancestors came to New Zealand “as subjects of the crown to settle.” On the other hand, the first Australians were “sent there as punishment” since it was once a penal colony. They like to add that from their perspective it’s the Americans and Australians who have many similarities. So the question becomes, would I prefer to go to where the inmates took over, or where the people did what America could not – separate from English rule without a war?

 I wouldn’t want to give up my citizenship, so I guess it would have to be a work assignment that popped up every four years.

 However, as I think about it, the main advantage would be that from 10,000 miles away, sheltered from the campaign ads, and news overexposure I might be able to make a thoughtful, rational and intelligent choice for my absentee ballot.

 Of course another option would be to change the disclaimer on political advertisements to, “I {Candidate’s Name} approve this message and its half-truths, exaggerations, outright lies and any libelous or slanderous statements because I’m willing to say or do anything – and I mean anything to get elected.”

 *Monty Python – Psychology Department at the University of Walamaloo Sketch.

Hey, Are You Gonna Use That Hyphen?

Because of the coverage of the Olympics in London, I’ve been left with the impression that England has become somewhat of a melting pot in its own right. I love the British accent, but it’s more fun to hear it coming from someone who doesn’t look like they’re a Monty Python character. If you’re not paying attention, you hear the voice and expect to see someone in a proper suit with derby and bumbershoot. You turn to the telly and instead you see a black or an Asian or whatever explaining that there was an issue with “the windscreen of the lorry” or such with that delightful accent.

Interestingly, I didn’t hear any of these individuals describe themselves as “Serbo-English” or “Asian-English.” While this may have been edited out, I prefer to think that the Brits gave up on hyphenated nationalities when they no longer considered themselves Anglo-Saxons. I imagine that it may be the norm in many countries – if you become a citizen or a subject, then you go all-in.

I imagine that if someone wanted to be considered a hyphenated German, it would be firmly explained that none of the paperwork had a box to check for that. You are either German or non-German.

Many of the Balkan countries are complicated enough as it is. Imagine trying to claim to be a Kyrgyzstan-Herzegovinian. It would take too long to spell it out, much less check the spelling.

And France? I wouldn’t even broach the subject with the French.

In America, some people hang onto their hyphens with more vigor than my son holding onto a pizza. You have African-American, Asian-Americans, Hispanic-Americans and whatever-Americans. I know where Africa is, and I can even find Asia on a map, but where’s Hispania? Don’t tell me it includes parts of North America, Central America, South America, the Caribbean Islands, the Leeward Islands, etc. That’s cheating. Sorry, maximum of one continent per hyphen.

My surname is Polish, so I guess I could call myself Polish-American, but based on my parents family trees I’m actually more German than Polish. Besides, Poland has kind of come and gone as a country generally alternating between being invaded by the Germans and Russians. That’s why the German city of Danzig became the Polish city of Gdansk – or was it the other way around. In any case, invasions are interspersed by periods in which the borders with Lithuania, Belarus, the Ukraine, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and their forebears move around as quickly and unpredictably as preschoolers on a playground.

Should I refer to myself as German-Polish-American or Polish-German-American? To complicate matters, my brother has taken a liking to genealogy and has found that we also have roots in England, Ireland, and I forget where else. So now I’m really confused.

I considered calling myself a “Mongrel-American” but that doesn’t have any pizzazz to it. Besides it sounds like my ancestors rode with Genghis Khan and the Mongol hordes. “Potpourri-American” just doesn’t cut it and I’m sure “Heinz-57 – American” probably violates the copyright of trademarks, service marks and other protected verbiage. Multi-national-American sounds like a military task force.

I suppose we could all just call ourselves “Americans”.

Naaah!

I Am an Immigrant.

I hope you get this letter and it means something to you.

I wanted very much to come to America. America is unique because it is not based on who you are, but on what you believe. The Constitution is what I believe. I read it as part of my citizenship studies. I have read it several times since then. I hope you read it, too.

To me America means opportunity. Not a guarantee but a chance. A chance to do better for my family. I came here to earn enough to support my family and see to it that my children are educated.

I don’t speak English very well, in fact I needed help to write this letter. I try, but I keep thinking in my native tongue. I’ll keep trying.

My children, though, they speak English very well. I think it would be nice if they could speak both languages. Maybe use the old language at home, but they aren’t interested. However, I know that English is more important because that’s what all their friends speak. It’s what they need for school and later for work.

There are some things I miss about my old home, but I made the choice to come here. I think of myself as an American, not as belonging to any other country.

I am writing this letter to the future generations of my family, hoping that generations will read it. I ask that each generation pass it along. You probably know from which land I came, but it’s not important. It does not matter if I came to Jamestown with the first settlers from England, to California from Asia or with the Irish, or Germans or Polish through Ellis Island.

Treasure what you have in this country. I went through a lot to get here so that you would have opportunities. Opportunities that are available only to Americans.

 

 

Sir Who?

America did away with titles of nobility from its very start. Calls to crown George Washington king didn’t meet with much support – especially from Mr. Washington himself. In like manner, titles like duke, earl and such were not imported from our continental kin.

Having said that, Americans have had a particular fascination for all things royal. The marriage of Charles and Diana created a sensation in America followed by a similar fascination with their divorce. Diana’s death titillated conspiracy theorists who had been denied anything interesting since President Kennedy’s assassination. And the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton had royal watchers in a swoon.

Most great tales include kings (both the wonderful and the evil type), beautiful princesses and brave knights renowned for their great deeds. It’s easy to envision the brave squire perhaps still in his battle damaged armor kneeling before the monarch who lays the flat of the sword blade on each shoulder;

“In the name of God and St. Michael and St. George, I dub thee knight; be brave and loyal.”

It’s a stirring image. You had King Henry VIII, Admiral Lord Nelson, Sir Henry Morgan – knighted pirate of the Caribbean and even Sir Edmund Hillary who was the first to conquer Mount Everest.

But, alas, today the criteria for knighthood have slipped a little. I mean, I love Paul McCartney’s music – excuse me, I mean Sir Paul. Then, of course you have Sir Elton John, Sir Mick Jagger and Sir Ian McKellen – the fine actor who played Gandalf the Grey in the Lord of the Rings.

I noticed that added to the rolls is Jonathan Ive, who was made a Knight Commander, Order of the British Empire (KBE). No dragon slayer, he, nor one to rescue a damsel in distress. His great deeds include the external design of many of Apple’s products including the iPod and iPhone.

I can hear it now,

“This is like so AWESOME! I dub thee knight, dude!”

Perhaps it’s just as well that America decided not to include such titles and stations in our culture.

Making a Selection

Ahh, yes, Mrs. …

“Please, no names.”

Of course, madam, I tend to be so anxious to serve that I forget that people of celebrity prefer to keep everything low key.  My apologies, and how may I help you today?

“I’d like to see what you can offer in ways of possibilities?”

Of course, madam, perhaps we should review your past acquisitions.  We started with 1997 red, as I recall from South America.  How did you like that?

“Oh I was very pleased.  Cheeky, almost arrogant, nice coloring, aged well.”

Excellent! Excellent!  Then there was a 1999 from South Africa.

“Oh, what would be a good description?  Spicy? Yes, I think that would work.  Nice color.  Very enjoyable.”

I knew you’d be pleased. I’m sometimes quite proud of my ability to find just the right selection.

“I think we can dispense with the others, I’ve been well pleased with your guidance every time.  The important question is what do you recommend today?”

I think I’ve got the perfect suggestion.  You need to expand a bit and Asia has been producing some excellent choices particularly in the new century.  I have a 2003 from Indonesia that is outstanding. Nice pale color, bold, exotic and dare I say surprising.  I know that you won’t be disappointed.

“You’ve always steered me in the right direction.  I trust you implicitly.”

Thank you madam, you’re too kind.  Shall I?

“Yes, please.  If you can get everything started as soon as possible, I’ll have my lawyer review the adoption papers and we can bring ..him?”

Her.  She’s a beautiful young lady, madam.

“We can bring her with the others to my upcoming movie premiere.”

Of course, madam.  I will have the papers drawn up as soon as possible and begin working the immigration issues.  I’m sure we can meet your deadline.

“Thank you.  Oh, dear, I must be going, I didn’t realize the time.”

Allow me to walk you out.  If you would see them, please extend my regards to Madonna and Ms. Jolie.

“Those phonies? Of course I will.  Especially since they’ll be green with envy.”

The Immigrants

“Good morning,” began the young lady in the uniform with a smile.  “Welcome to Earth, sometimes referred to as the planet Terra.  My name is Kathryn and I will be helping you through your assimilation process over the next few days.  The intent of the Immigration Department is to ensure that your stay on Earth is as pleasant and productive as possible.

“Everyone, please have a seat, or arrange your body in whatever manner is most comfortable.  We have chairs, cushions, slings, various sizes of buckets and other containers, several gha^k#s as well as other furniture, which my human body cannot pronounce, for your use.  Is everyone set? Oh, dear, one of our Geldorean guests has unfortunately settled into a bucket which seems to have sprung a leak.  Can someone please pour him into a more comfortable container? Good.  Thank you so much.

“Earth is the home planet of humans, also known by their scientific name of “homo sapiens.”  As a species we are naturally curious and ambitious.  As such, it is our nature to explore and conquer, first this planet, then out into space.  Space exploration was a turning point for humankind because instead of conquering one another, we found that the conquering of space took as much effort and was more fulfilling psychologically and economically. 

“Our first successful off planet excursion was to our own moon.  Eventually, humans began colonizing our moon by digging into it which combined both mineral mining with developing a safe and sustainable environment.  The “Moonies” have always taken pride in being first, which is why they are so passionate about their professional football team, the “Green Cheese.”

“Mining led to trading and soon after discovering other intelligent life forms, Earthers sought ways to trade our goods for theirs.  Many of you and your species had their first contact with Earth humans when they arrived on your planet as traders.

“With the success of space travel, many Earth organizations first opened sales offices on other planets and later opened manufacturing facilities.  At first there was a lot of concern about manufacturing jobs being sent to other planets, but soon many from Earth realized that they could be more successful out there than they ever could be here on Earth.  This caused many humans to leave Earth to seek opportunities on other planets, or in some cases in the interstellar travel industry.  We have some humans who have not set foot on any planet for many years.”

“So humans do not expand by conquest?” asked one of the Krallik.

“By armed conflict, no,” answered Kathryn.  “However, as the Zyrillian philosopher Brek’qix so astutely stated, ‘What the Field Marshall cannot take by war, the Captains of Industry will take by trade.’” There was a rumble of agreement from the new arrivals.

“Shall we continue?” asked Kathryn. She was met with nods and other cultural gyrations of assent.

“If you were here as tourists,” she continued, “You would not be receiving this in-depth information.  Tourists come and see the pyramids, the Great Wall of China, take a swim in the warm waters of the Arctic Ocean, hunt a cloned lion and two days later they go home.  They stay pretty much on the tourist trails.  All of you, on the other hand, are here long term.  Some have come to study at our universities, others have decided to immigrate and make this your home.  It is my personal goal as well as the goal of the Immigration Department that you succeed.

“Earth has traditionally organized itself in various ways.  Some would see this as separating one group of people from another.  Others see it as bringing individual humans together.  Your particular view depends upon whether you see the glass as half full or half empty.

“The most basic grouping is family.  Most of you have similar structure.  Among humans, unless you use scientific intervention it takes two people to biologically produce offspring.  In an ideal situation the two adult parents and their children stay grouped as a family until the children are physically mature and educated, after which they leave the family home, while retaining emotional ties to it.  Many grown children then go on to seek partners and begin families of their own.  The extended family including the parents’ sisters and brothers and their families, grandparents and so on may be considered more or less as a tribe.

“Another grouping is according to theological or philosophical values.  Humans often identify themselves as members of a particular belief system.  Some who do so assemble with others of that same belief system on a periodic basis, as frequently as several times a week, commonly on a weekly basis and in some cases at one or two major holidays each year.

“Perhaps the most significant group on a large scale are geopolitical entities.  People combine their requirements and provide for them through political units.  The most localized is often a town or city.  The largest is a nation.  The nation through which you enter Earth is called the United States of America.” 

“SCReeeeee!” came from the crowd and a split second later the translator converted it. “Why does this United States act as an entry point?”

“That’s an interesting piece of history,” replied Kathryn.  “Many countries consisted of people whose families or tribes had lived in a certain place for many hundreds or even thousands of years.  People from outside those tribes were viewed with suspicion and not welcomed.  The United States, or U.S. as it is often called, was populated by virtue of accepting immigrants from all parts of Earth.  This ‘melting pot’ effect brought a unique blend of cultures together that in turn resulted in a unique new culture.  Since people of different colors and with different languages, beliefs and customs eventually learned how to live and work together, it seemed logical to use the U.S. as the entry point for immigrants who came from off planet.

“Most of you intend on becoming U.S. citizens.   Even if that is not your intent, in order to be accepted it’s best to learn the social norms.  If you look different you will eventually be accepted.  If you don’t act like most others, you will most likely be excluded and your experience will not be as pleasant.

“First, the language used here in the U.S. is English.  Some of you may know this language as ‘Terra Standard.’  It is expected that you will communicate in English.  If you have children, they will pick it up far more quickly than you.  If you have your children speak English at home, it will help you learn both the language as well as understand the culture more easily.”

“Glorfalz frrradspiz!”

“Yes I understand that the Holfren are not physiologically able to pronounce many English words.  That is why you were required to obtain an approved translatifier prior to leaving Holf.  The translatifier will render all your spoken thoughts in English.  Humans find it uncomfortable for people to be having a conversation in a different language in their presence.  In this way, you’ll fit in better.” She looked around the room.  A smell somewhere between cooking cabbage and laundry soap filled the air.  Kathryn, being fluent in the pheromone based language of the Skinxz, answered with a smile.

 “Someone always asks that. Yes, many Americans use foul language. No, it is not necessary for you to learn to cuss.  As a matter of fact, it is considered more prestigious to communicate without swearing.

“Now I know you’ve all had a long trip and all, so let’s call it a day.  Those headed on to your colleges and universities will continue your assimilation training there.  Good luck and remember that partying in college is normal, but don’t let it interfere with your studies.  Hell hath no fury like a parent whose child fails freshman courses!

“As for the rest of you, tomorrow we’ll start evening citizenship classes.  The day will come, and not so far in the future, when you will be able to raise your hand, tentacle or other body part, take the oath and then say with pride, ‘I too am an American!’”

 

Happy Independence Day!

The Virginian-Pilot like many newspapers printed the Declaration of Independence today.  I’d love to know how many readers actually take the time to read or better yet re-read this unique document.  Unfortunately, I suspect that many people don’t take the time.  I also suspect that most people ascribe statements to the Declaration that are not contained therein, or if they do quote from it they only remember something about “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Perhaps it would be useful for newspapers to take a section each day between Flag Day (June 14) and Independence Day and explain the Declaration in detail and put it in the context of the latter half of the eighteenth century.  The bulk of the document, of course, addresses the grievances the colonies had with King George III of England.  Some of the actions to which the Founding Fathers objected were perhaps not as unreasonable as those whose study of history was limited to those mandated by the school board.  Great Britain had spent considerable amounts of blood and treasure in defending the colonists against the French and the Indians.  This “Seven Years War” was a global conflict and the North American portion of it (what we call the “French and Indian War”) actually ran longer.  To the crown it seemed reasonable that the colonists should pay a fair share of the costs of Great Britain had incurred for their defense.  The colonies were, after all, attractive because of the richness of resources and opportunities.

Unfortunately the matter was not handled in the most diplomatic of manners by the British, and the relations continued to devolve.  Independence was not a universally popular choice with many remaining loyal to the monarchy and others hoping for a reconciliation between the crown and the colonists.  John Dickinson of Pennsylvania, a member of the Continental Congress was a moderate and didn’t believe that the colonies had the military (or economic) capacity to win.  He warned that if the Declaration was approved the colonies would “brave the storm in a skiff made of paper.”  He abstained from voting on or signing the Declaration but did serve in the Continental Army and went on to have influence on the early nation, including being a supporter and a signatory to the US Constitution.

We’re so used to seeing the Founding Fathers in a certain light of invincibility and omniscience that we ignore the real meaning of the last line of the Declaration;

“And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” 

Many patriots had their property burned or seized (including, incidentally, property owned by John Dickinson.)  If the revolution had been lost, George Washington certainly would have been taken to London in chains and drawn and quartered – a particularly gruesome form of execution imposed on traitors.  The risk to these men and their families was far more real and significant than we realize.

I do have to comment on one particular complaint levied against the king in the Declaration;

“He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws of Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.” 

I guess we still haven’t figured that one out.

There is one other aspect of the Declaration that strikes me.  There was great news coverage when people were informed that the Declaration had been adopted; I’m sure there was some coverage of the workings of the Continental Congress, but nothing like we see today.  The emphasis was on the final product, not the political infighting and posturing that always occurs in such situations.  It was that results that counted.

In today’s sound bite 24 hour news world the changing of “inalienable rights” as written by Thomas Jefferson to “unalienable rights” by the printer possibly with influence by John Adams would be “breaking news” and spawn a myriad of conspiracy theories.

However, the bottom line is that the Declaration was the first step on a journey.  We Americans continue that journey today.  Let us take time to honor the work of those who started the process and pledge our Lives, Fortunes and our sacred Honor to continue the process in a manner in which we and they would all be proud.

Guest Blog – Rick Martinez

Rick Martinez and I have been friends for many, many years.  Rick’s curriculum vitae approaches the size of a printed encyclopedia, but among his accomplishments, he was publisher of  Administrative Radiology Journal, for which I wrote for 18 years.  Here is something Rick sent to me to share with you.

The grace of our good Lord, Christ Jesus, be to you.

Most of us Americans today don’t realize it, but FREEDOM must be fought for:

It is never FREELY given!

It’s hard to imagine and perhaps believe–we, Americans, have a chance tolose our country? This is what we must remember and what must be ournational conversation, after we remember each and every person who gave their life defending our freedom.    

When we make the decision to go to war, we’ve already made the decision the situation is beyond law and order…and reason. Rogue governments who beat-up and kill their own people (elders, women and children)…or infringe on their neighbors… or threaten America–call us into an OBLIGATORY and JUST war, whereby when we save one innocent person, we save the world.

Yet, it’s time we looked at ourselves inside America and our country. America will never be destroyed from the outside: If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves. For the first in the history of America not only have we become a nation of takers (not givers), but the emigres actually believe they are “entitled” to more than their enclave communities. For example (and while it shouldn’t matter, I’m Mexican), Mexicans want California, New Mexico and Arizona as their own; the Middle Easterners believe Detroit, New York and Glendale, CA., should be like Iran and Muslim states; and of course there are other sects who– like the wilder beasts on the Savannah–will roam and take over whatever land where there’s FREE grazing.  

 Only for insight and thought, not as scare tactic, Memorial Day must be a time for deep introspection and appreciation: Freedom is not free, even though it renders people free. The future of America, our country, will be given shape by our faith… or condemned to drift to disaster by our indifference.

 Throughout history it has been the inaction of those who could have acted, the indifference of those who should have known better, the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most, that has made it possible for evil to triumph.

It’s not the difference between people that’s the difficulty: It’s the indifference!

 This Memorial Day we must not be indifferent. This, I believe, we must ponder.

 ACCEPT and enjoy the blessings of God.

 –Rick Martinez