The terms Liberal and Conservative used to mean something. Now they’re merely clumsy cudgels to berate those whom they name. Commentators on both sides of the news carry on like rude, spiteful children, ceaselessly demeaning the other side. Unless you’re content with predictable spin, you’d have to be loony to tune to Fox News on the self-righteous Right, or MS-pinko-NBC at the other extreme. Remember Objectivity? Well, sad to say, it went away.
No issue has exemplified today’s polarized political debate more than immigration, which remains a hostile impasse that resists all compromise. One reason the puzzle is so hard to solve – both here and abroad – is that its two main elements are not on the same plane, not in the same domain. One side’s about compassion and/or “basic decency.” (Helping those who need help.) The other side is practical and economical: How many people can fit in this boat, and will there be enough to eat? Because of this, the problem doesn’t yield to compromise. No matter how cogent your arguments are, they don’t really answer the other side’s questions at all.
Sympathy and compassion are defining human traits. When someone’s in danger, or hurting, or ill, most human beings will feel for them – that’s what sym-pathize means. A Chinese artist, AI Wei Wei, produced a movie recently entitled “Human Flow,” filmed in 11 different countries by 11 different directors. It doesn’t judge or criticize; it simply documents the growing glut of refugees and the rampant instability – military, political, and environmental – which forces folks to take their kids, and grandma, and the goat and run away.
The news, she is not good, my friend. At present, there are 68.5 million refugees orldwide, and their number increases by 35,000 each day. AND THEIR NUMBER INCREASES BY 35,000 EACH DAY! Can you hear? Do you care? If not now, you will soon. Let’s go live on the moon!
Economics is essentially a question of resources and the distribution of resources. Sentiment is not part of it. No successful organism, including this nation, can afford to be careless about its boundaries. You can’t remain healthy if you have big holes in your skin; your finite wealth starts seeping out and pathogens creep in. We must control our borders to survive. The wealthy countries, like the USA and Germany, must look like Heaven – well-stocked larders and/or hospitals – to desperate folks who’ve left their homes to flee from cartels, warfare, drought, starvation and disease. No one with any decency can be immune to images of frightened children drowning out at sea, or horrid stories we’ve all heard of parents murdered right before their stricken children’s eyes – or vice V.
Someone was saying, recently, that the difference between Democrats and Republicans – or between Liberals and Conservatives – is the difference between generosity and practicality. According to that paradigm, the Liberal declares: “Mi Casa Es Su Casa. Come in, you’re welcome here!” Conservatives, more cautious, on the other hand proclaim: “Mi Casa Es Mi Casa. Go on back to Venezuela, get a job, and build your own.” (Is that like telling hungry dogs to go and build a bone?)
We remain at Square One and the impasse persists. There are very good reasons, in practical terms, for both locking the door and/or building a wall, and good reasons – in moral, compassionate terms to open wide our hearts and minds to those who struggle to survive. Like us, they want to keep their kids alive.