Tuesday, July 04, 2006

to be an American

“America is not just a country. It is an idea.” Bono

About thirty years ago, there was a large influx of Nigerians to the community in which I now live. They came in droves and they stayed. They were immigrants who had come to make a better life for themselves and their families. What’s very interesting about these people as that they now see themselves as somehow being above the immigrants that are now moving in. In fact, they will often badmouth the new immigrants yet, when pointed out that they too are immigrants, will respond by simply saying that they’ve “been here for thirty years.” To me this is a good, if extreme example of what is taking place across America right now. What gives me the right to state who is and who is not allowed to come to America and try and make a better life for themselves and their family? Isn’t that why my family came? Isn’t that what our country was built on? Isn’t that exactly what our forefathers came to America to do? In fact, isn’t that what makes us American?

I’ve been holding off on this one for a while because I don’t really feel that I can lend any justice to the conversation. There are many arguments that can be made on behalf of immigrants. They take the jobs that we don’t want. They’re often harder working people than we are, often working at least two jobs or more. There is no Christian way to justify the thought process that immigrants should be sent back home. It’s just not a Christ like value.

But I think I’d simply like to appeal to people’s patriotism today, on the 4th of July. What makes us American? A historian once said that “You come here, and you ascent, and you’re American.” To me it’s the belief that everybody gets a vote. That we, as a group of people, are capable of governing ourselves. That religious freedom is a human right. That free enterprise is what makes a nation strong and that we all have a right to give it a shot. And that if you’re prepared to come to America (sacrificing what most immigrants have to sacrifice to get to there), work hard, and embrace America, you’re American.

My family has only been in the U.S. for four generations. Olyvia makes generation number five. I’m glad that we had that opportunity. And I’m glad that the Vietnamese family across the street from me growing up had that opportunity. And I’m glad that the Jordanians living beside my parents now had that opportunity. Both of these families are the best neighbours we ever had.

America is not just a country. America is an idea.

Comments on "to be an American"


Blogger Bret said ... (12:40 PM) : 

Lev 19:33-34 says, “When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. 34 The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.”

Good post. Happy fourth of July!




Blogger Cari said ... (5:20 PM) : 

I am just about as patriotic as they come. I love my country and its freedoms, and I swell up with pride when I see troops saluting a flag, or baseball players sing the National Anthem. I get goose bumbs and tears when I see Olympians sing our National Anthem, or really any patriot of any country competing, winning, and showing pride. I believe immigrants and aliens ought to be given a fair shake. I don't believe they should come in and commit crimes to get by or undercut an unemployed person. But we enable and even force crime when we hire people far below the minimum wage to cut our costs. Those wages aren't enough for them to get by, and so we end up footing the bill for whatever mess they get into. If an Hispanic family comes in search of the American Dream, let them! Take care of them. Minister to their needs and disciple them until they too can get up on their own feet and become tax-paying citizens. Or buy Mexico and make it USA and boom! We get some nice beaches!! And some drug problems, but you take the bad with the good, right? Some of my dearest friends are immigrants who understand grace and freedom far better than we ever will.


Blogger Larry said ... (3:22 AM) : 

INteresting post. I believe in the process of legal immigration. I think illegal immigration can often lead to virtual slavery for many. Many of our illegals live in fear of deprotation and therefore find themselves at very low-paying sweatshop jobs.

I am not for deporting those here illegally now. We must find a way to help them obtain legal status and protect them.

I think we should, however, control immigration so that we might at least attempt to prevent the mistreatment of illegals. I would love to see some type of guest worker program. I am not sure how it would work. I really think that if you want to come to this idea called America, you should have the opportunity. It should be a safe one for you though.

I am tired of seeing people who want to live in our society as a contributing member shut out, by unfair laws. I wonder what would happen if we cut just 1 billion from both the defense and NASA budgets what we could do to help this situation with the extra funds?


Blogger Jonathan said ... (6:32 AM) : 

I'm all for immigrants. I'm all for finding them jobs... but there are legal ways to immigrate. As a matter of fact, we teach English to immigrants from Afghanistan, Iran, Russia and other Eastern countries. They got here legally. Shouldn't the same be expected of our friends from south of the border?



Blogger Matt L said ... (6:42 PM) : 

Don't you live in England Tim?


Blogger BLUE said ... (10:03 PM) : 

They should do it in accordance with the laws of the land.


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