CONVERSATIONS ON RELIGION & CULTURE, FEBRUARY 25
Topic for February 25: “Immigration”
There will be many facets to this discussion.
We are a nation of immigrants; everyone except the Native Americans has come here from some other place. Immigrants came here in waves: from the “hulks” (denuded hulls of exhausted warships that England used as prisons for their criminals and poor), from Ireland (especially during the potato famines), from Germany, Italy, and other countries, and (against their will) from Africa. We came here to escape starvation, oppression and landlessness, or to be enslaved (as slaves indentured to pay their portage, and as Africans captured and sold into slavery).
But the current mood of this country, and across all of Europe, is against immigration. Too many. Too fast. From too diverse cultures. They’re too different. They’re said to drain our resources, strain our safety nets, and dilute who we are. They take away our jobs. They turn to crime making our cities less safe (as if those cities had been all that safe before.) And out of the frustration and despair inherent to being assimilated a few of them turn to “terrorist” acts.
As fugitives, as oppressed, as displaced, as impoverished, or malnourished (even starving) immigrants have always spread across the face of the globe. Today they are fleeing warfare, genocide, terrorism, hunger, loss of arable land caused by climate change and/or military action, and by the unrest caused by simple over-population . . . the same reasons our forebears came here.
But there are unanswered questions: how quickly can they be assimilated into our culture, become “us,” especially when they don’t want really to become like us, but want to merely find a living while retaining the culture and history and ethnicity they grew up in and have always been bathed in? How much are we in turn being unwillingly assimilated into their unfamiliar cultures and ways, and losing our own? What kinds of problems do they bring with them and inflict on us . . . strange problems that we don’t understand and have never tried to solve? How many of them can we absorb before we unbecome who we’ve always (we think) been? At what cost? To us? Corporately and individually?
When the Irish came they lived in enclaves, ghettoes, and were despised by those of us already here as sub-humans, uncivilized, criminals, and a drag on the economy. Same for those of other countries and ethnicities. We all had to work our way into this culture. But we made it, except for dark-skinned Africans whom we’ve not yet allowed fully into the culture (despite their contributions).
The Alt-Right across Europe and within our own leadership are rising to say with loud and self-righteous anger, “No.” Should it be thus? Why? What are my personal problems with new immigrants?
Long ago I learned we usually use anger to hide and defend the fear that almost always is the dark side underlying the anger. So, what are we afraid of? And how legitimate are those fears?
This is the starting point for our conversation. Come and join our exploration.
Led by Reverend Jack Bowers
Meets in the Undercroft 4:00-6:00 pm.