Halloween in Chinatown
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Halloween in Chinatown • Posted: Nov 24, 2014 13:49:53Comments WelcomeVote CoolPhotoblogsPurchase a PrintShare

U.S. immigration policy has been big in the news this week. Sad and disturbing has been the debate, so often charged with fear, ignorance, anger, hate, frustration, and highly sympathetic personal stories. The whole idea behind democracy is for citizens to civilly discuss their differing views as to what policy we'd all prefer to live under. And then, by representative consensus, enact some kind of workable composite policy into law. Law here meaning rational objectives we all agree to contribute to and work within.

Very sad when some folks refuse to agree to anything but what they want. Very sad when other folks understand "law" to mean vehicle by which "worthy" can be separated from "unworthy", "clean" can be separated from "filthy", "righteous" can be separated from "debased", and "haves" can be separated from "have nots". Prejudice is just not pretty. And, it is so very contrary to the highest ideals we Americans proclaim for ourselves. But, fear of losing something, fear of strangers, and fear of change loom uncomfortably dark and large within the psyche of far too many American citizens. One begins to wonder if democracy might not work better if citizenship itself were subject to renewal several times a lifetime, renewal granted only upon demonstrating proficient knowledge and understanding of democracy's workings and the current issues before it. Fail such a test and you get deported, even though you may have been born here. I'd venture to say that would wake up quite a few lazy, close-minded, self-righteous thinkers.

America has changed. And it continues to change. With each new influx of hopeful immigrants, heads swimming with creative ideas and energies, new communities form. And the mix just gets richer and richer as our collective viability doubles and triples and quadruples, something monolithic fascism, favored and advocated by the most fearful among us, could never match in its wildest dreams. Just this morning, NewScientist published an article listing numerous studies that conclude new immigrants enrich the host country. But the reality is, the U.S. cannot take in all who desire to enter as fast as they'd love to enter. And neither can Europe, Canada, or Australia. Just as too much water or fertilizer will kill a crop, the U.S. is a living breathing organism that can only healthfully grow at a certain rate. Overwhelmed, it will surely fail, just as some countries in the Middle East and Africa are failing now under the strain of war-fleeing refugees pouring in. No, our immigration polices should be rational and controlled, but also fair and encouraging. And by rights, they should be complemented by foreign policies that encourage viability in lands other than our own, lands that may eventually become valued trading partners in a relationship that enriches us both.

About this time last year I visited San Francisco. I saw a number of neighborhoods very different in character from any I'd ever seen before. Halloween is not a Chinese custom. But ethnically Chinese children were out trick-or-treating anyway. I smiled, just as I smiled when I saw a work-worn Chinese lady enjoying dinner in a restaurant with her two nearly adult children. Without a doubt, I'd bet she knows the meaning of hard work and opportunity in American. And I, for one, would love to hear her thoughts on what our new immigration policies should be. I can only wonder whether her children, and those children enjoying Halloween, will eventually grow to become wise and charitable citizens of this country, or add to our dark and disturbing numbers of fearful bigots.

Thursday, October 31st, 2013
San Francisco