The How; a revisit to meaning well versus doing well
On my mind this evening is, well, politics, compliments in part to one of the radio programs on NPR at night called “More or Less” (which I believe is a Britain-based program). Generally politics is a subject matter I much rather prefer not to engage, but this one hits a bit close to home.
Stated simply, this past week our President Obama set in motion a change in the immigration policy reform. But, yes, the situation is extraordinarily complex and makes for a very long blog entry from me.
While I am not myself an immigrant, I do have some appreciable understanding of what it feels like to be an immigrant in or actually more accurately in the case of my family an emigrant to America. That understanding comes from discussions I used to have with my Mouse (Mother), may she rest in peace.
It is a poignant dichotomy to both desparately flee to this country and simultaneously be deeply fearful of it. It is an emotional struggle felt by nearly every immigrant (those arriving into a place for reasons generally of building a better life) and emigrant (those fleeing from their point of origin generally from a survival impetus).
My Mouse, along with my Grandmother and Aunt, and my Grandfather, came to America from Germany after World War II. They did so essentially from fear of death that they felt certain would come to them should they have stayed in their country of origin. This kind of fear was shared by many of the thousands who came to this country in that same time, who though were generally, statistically and not entirely accurately regarded as immigrants rather than emigrants.
To my Mouse and to many others, America was the only place to come to. But they did not see coming here as a way of making a better life for themselves but rather the only place where they might not be put to death for cultural reasons.
On my Mouse’s side of the family, we were what was at one point termed bourgeoisie class, a class often regarded from an inaccurate perspective. True, our family was part of a class of people that included for example political representatives and large land-holders. However the responsibilites and obligations this class position put upon my family and others in this same class are not represented accurately by dictionaries where one might seek the definition of bourgeoisie.
Our family was concerned for and directly involved with the productive employment and welfare of others. This included providing for many aspects apart from employment, including food, clothing, health care, education, often extending to matters such as support to marriages, births and funerals.
The recent production “Downton Abbey” gives perhaps the best, most complete illustration of the responsibilities of and pressures upon the bourgeoisie class of which my family was a part. And to the writers and producers of “Downton Abbey” I give my gratitude for their fine work.
Unfortunately, part of the sentiments within World War II was a long-running, politcally cultivated hatred against the bourgeoisie class. In Germany, prior to the Allies declaring the matter as “World War II,” the vicious hatred publicized most were those against the Jews. Nearly over-looked at the time was the concurrent slaughtering of those in the bourgeoisie class.
This is not to allude that any class of individuals in Germany were absent or somehow exempt from contributing to the causes of internal conflicts. All were parts of national stress.
Actually in essence Germany has been at war with itself since its very beginnings.
From cultural expectations upon the bourgeoisie class became developed generally superficial views which then evolved into the tool that would bring about its destruction as a class. And from this fear of death, my family escaped to America.
From day one, there was the fear running from a homeland that was out to kill and fear of the country one was running to which may deport one back to a place of waiting certain death. This combination of fear and essential distrust was something lived with every minute of every day, as intimate and inescapable a part of one’s self as one’s shadow.
From this background is where I can appreciate some of the perspective of immigrants, currently many from Mexico coming to America, who may every day work very hard to scrape together some kind of income and life for themselves, yet equally daily live in fear of deportation.
Though I am certain our President Obama means well and has the best intentions, his approach on the matter is difficult at best.
A significant part of the birth of the United States of America came as a result of deep disagreement towards being ruled over by a government not comprised of a majority people but rather a minority and detached ruling class. So a governing body was constructed that should better represent and act on behalf of a majority people.
What becomes difficult for me to negotiate in my mind is why the political parties of the Congressional Houses have been so difficult for many years towards reaching a consensus of action in regards to immigration. It’s that lack of movement of these political parties which in its own way motivated President Obama to move ahead essentially on his own by way of Executive Order.
However, the political parties decrying President Obama’s actions as akin to an Emperor declaring rule over a detached majority of people is inaccurate. The majority of people have long wanted some kind of appreciable progress and helpful action on the matter of immigration.
Basically President Obama has told the political parties of the Congressional Houses that their seemingly stubborn sitting upon their hands, either unable or unwilling to work together towards action, is intolerable to the country as a whole and therefore he moved ahead without them.
It is a bold, precarious move on President Obama’s part because of the nature of working independently of the Houses that are integral to the core and foundation of this country.
Basically this Executive Order is a statement of impatience having reached its limit. It also serves to threaten a suggestion upon the political parties as to suggest, arguably inaccurately, them to be either irrelevant, unnecessary, unhelpful or no longer appreciated by the country as a majority.
This Executive Order is a cutting challenge upon Congress to do something in the way of actual productive action. The question is how will they act? Will they act to politcally preserve themselves and their importance within the tapestry of this country’s government? Or will they act towards a greater good of the country?
I suspect they are working their collective cleverness towards achieving both, which likely will result in that very stagnation of not much of anything productively helpful that inspired President Obama to put his Executive Order into action.
In a situation of such seemingly circular conflict, how does one mean well and do well?