I wonder why I feel so discombobulated. Don’t you just love that word? It feels like what it means, right? Every morning I awake hoping as I check the news services, a habit I am going to break any day now, that during the night the Good Fairy has worked his, her, they, them magic and people have come to their senses. We have stopped violating each other physically, verbally, emotionally, psychologically.
Honestly, I do not understand. It seems only minutes ago I was reciting the pledge of allegiance and singing the Star Spangled Banner in my Brooklyn, N.Y. classroom of mixed Americans and immigrants. Everything was far from alright. We were in the midst of World War II. That was a time we came together against a common enemy. Is that the problem? If we are all potential enemies to each other we no longer have a common one. Was I just another kid who drank the Kool-aid? I wanted to give everyone who was suffering from the forces of evil… the Nazis and Japanese War Lords… a free ticket to the land of the free and the home of the brave. After all, when my father was a young boy, he had had a ticket (I’m sure not free) from somewhere in Eastern Europe to the Statue of Liberty. I am definitely a product of The American Dream. What happened?
Somewhere along the way we humans are losing our ability to adapt. Evolution, development, dare I say, maturity is all about improvisation. Isn’t that how a bunch of single cells became a Brontosaurus? (check out a new book by Steve Brusatte, The Rise and Fall of Dinosaurs)
I do not want to join the growing parade of naysayers. I would rather believe any situation we humans find ourselves in is yet another opportunity to create a different, and dare I hope, better world. Please don’t roll your eyes any further back into your head. You will lose them. I realize it is not going well anywhere. But that doesn’t mean I am down in the dirt ready to holler UNCLE. (see Debbie Reynolds as The Unsinkable Molly Brown… she is inspirational)
Far from it. I am happy to sing along with the former Washington Senators Baseball team in the movie, Damn Yankees
It’s official. I just celebrated my 88th Birthday.
No applause. No gifts. Unless, of course it’s a ticket on the William Shatner and Jeff Bozos… oops, I mean Bezos, moon rocket… NOT. Whatever days I have left I am not willing to risk it all being over while I’m in company with an actor (believe me having been one I know just how boring they can be) and a gazillionaire who like Nero before him spent his money playing with rockets while his country burned. The jury is back. I am wholeheartedly judgmental.
Back to my special day. I was gifted with a novel, Behold the Dreamers, by Imbolo Mbue, a beautiful and talented Cameroon immigrant. I began to read it. Not at the party. I waited until everyone was gone.
I was talking to a friend about how good the book was. It occurred to me that the immigrant story is a forever story. Whether it was then or now… forever. And then a light bulb went on in my headball. I am telling you my friends, it is crazy, absolutely crazy, this crazy mess and mix up of who is the immigrant and who is not. Get it clear, my friends. Except for the Indigenous folk and their descendants, we are all immigrants.
WHO WAS HERE FIRST?
I guarantee unless you are an Indigenous American or have American Indigenous blood in you…. it wasn’t you. This includes each and every descendant of the Jamestown Colony of Virginia and the Mayflower, AKA the Plymouth Colony, or the New York City Dutch Colonials. And let us not forget the Spaniards of Florida, the West and Southwest, the British of the Northwest. And by the 1800’s the ongoing stampede from Europe, the Germans, the Irish, the Greeks, the Italians, the Swedes, the Danes, the Norwegians (I Remember Mama), and oh so many other countries, as well as from every shtetl in Eastern Europe and Russia.
I’m exploring this theme because it has brought to mind the many memoirs I have read of the more recent immigrants from Africa, Viet Nam, India, Korea, Egypt, Pakistan, Afghanistan along with the many Latin American countries… the Islands, Central and South America. I’m not sure about the flood (literally and figuratively) of Inuit and other Northern Eskimo tribes. But once the Poles complete their meltdown I assure you they will be rowing their way to our shores.
OK, here is your first test. What is the difference between the immigrants of the founding countries of this yet to be United States of America and the immigrants of the last 50 years of these United States of America?
You are too smart! You are right! COLOR!
CAVEAT: I do not count the African Black population of the 17th and 18th Century that arrived by the boatloads. Traveling in storage, not steerage…storage! Kidnapped, enslaved and in chains doesn’t count as travel to the new world. Journey to and in Hell is more accurate. And as a matter of real fact, they actually weren’t counted as human at all, anyway. That came later. What am I saying? It’s not here yet. Hopefully, soon.
Here’s my question… Would we be so up in arms about immigrants if they looked and thought and sounded like white Americans. Wouldn’t it be great to take all the naysayers back to their roots to listen to their family accents, their family old country traditions, their difficulties in assimilation.
Aha! Assimilation! Most of the white immigrants managed to assimilate… some more successfully than others. The possibility of assimilation through work and education particularly in this country was always a possibility. Only if you were white, of course.
Isn’t that what this is all about? The majority of the immigrants over the last 50 to 100 years are people of color. Pretty hard to assimilate when ones color is the first thing you notice about a person.
No matter what race theory you subscribe to, consciously or unconsciously, there is no getting away from being a different color.
It’s not easy being green…is it?
Anyway, I find myself amused when I realize how upset everyone is about the immigrant situation. Often my amusement turns to anger when someone wants to put up a wall or chase immigrants down a river on a big horse with a big whip. That’s when I want to give them a big shake, shouting, “Hey Jerkball, you are not an Indigenous American. Therefore, you’re an immigrant, too! I promise you… someone in your family came here from someplace else. Give someone else the same break your ancestors had when they arrived. If by chance they didn’t get that break, well let me be the first one to tell you LIFE IS NOT FAIR. And yet, even today withThe Troubles(lots of the Irish immigrant in this country can definitely relate) this is a great and unique country. There is still plenty of land. And there is always someone willing to climb a ladder. Got it! Get it. Good! “
However, it won’t work. Today, no one listens to anyone. Unless you are parroting what they say. Then, you are not really listening. You are a parrot. Nice feathers… no sense.
Here’s the kicker. Anger is not helpful to my blood pressure and man, it really saps my energy. So I am just going to do what I can for others. Keep love on the front burner. Call it like I see it. Have some more birthdays so I can keep Blah, Blah, Blogging.