I saw this Ralph Waldo Emerson quote on another web site a while ago: "A nation, like a tree, does not thrive well till it is engrafted with a foreign stock."
I'd also like to recommend a book for those interested in reading about an earlier wave of immigration to the US: The Huddled Masses: The Immigrant in American Society (1880-1921) by Alan Kraut. One of the lessons of this book is that it would be a mistake to over-generalize the motivations of people who choose to emigrate to another country.
I understand that many people are threatened by what they see as out-of-control immigration to the US, and I am not so naive as to think that the process will be easy (it is easy to see that it will be quite the opposite, in fact). But, in my humble opinion, we are going to have to acknowledge sooner or later that human society is rapidly approaching a stage of evolution where the old artificial, nationalistic borders just aren't going to work anymore. Unless we begin to establish new global paradigms for more effectively living and working together (despite our myriad differences), I truly believe we are setting ourselves up to either collapse into chaos from all the in-fighting based on nationalist, religious, economic, etc. grounds - or we will simply become irrelevant as a species and relegate ourselves to the fate of the dinosaurs...
It's easy to point to foreign-born individuals educated in the US who have worked with terrorist organizations to wreak havoc as some sort of justification for "closing our borders" or some variation of the restrictionist scheme. But what about the innumerable individuals who have emigrated to the US and exported what's great about America to their countries of origin? You know, moving the mountain one pebble at a time...
The concept of Fortress America, if realized, represents a capitulation to the pessimistic view that human beings are simply not capable of celebrating diversity and living and working together. I choose to believe the opposite.
And since I opened this letter to the editor with a quote from Emerson, let me close with an excerpt from Desiderata, written by Max Ehrmann in 1927:
"Go placidly amid the noise and the haste...You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars, you have a right to be here..."
Thanks again for this great forum.
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