Monday, May 01, 2006

Happy May Day!

Having been raised by bleeding-heart liberals and then living in the Soviet Union as a teenager has given me a mixed perspective on capitalism and immigration. While I think a constitutional amendment to ban flag burning is a waste of time, I still get teary when I hear the Star Spangled Banner, having sung it and seen the flag raised for the first time in another country. I also know that you're not supposed to leave a flag out overnight without illumination and burning is the proper disposal method (in a respectful manner) and wearing it as a poncho is rude and disrespectful and just plain dumb.

My students are about 45% Hispanic, 45% African-American (counting just plain African), 5% Asian, and 5% White. That means a huge percentage of kids are immigrants or children of immigrants. And, to be completely honest, lots of the actual immigrant kids are more focused than the native ghetto kids (black, white, and brown). Not that there aren't exceptions, but I do appreciate the kids who realize that the key to their success is education and hard work.

My friend Ana told us about going to a restaurant on the day of the last large demonstrations regarding immigration. The normally stellar service was abysmal. They didn't get any chips and food was super-slow and the place was really dirty. Since they're regulars, the manager ended up coming and talking to them and told them that almost all of his staff were off demonstrating and he was back in the kitchen cooking. Say what you like about immigrants, particularly illegal immigrants, but lots of them are working a whole heck of a lot more than our citizens.

I don't know what the solution to all of our problems are and I realize that it's very complicated. And I also know that my forebears didn't come over on the Mayflower. They were allowed in, they were given a chance, and they worked their butts off for it. And if my tax dollars go to help poor immigrants, and especially to educate them, I am all for it. I complain a lot about the kids who suck, but there are also kids like my lovely Hispanic girl who sets off for A&M in College Station in a few weeks. When she told me about her acceptance and asked if she could take her final early, I got choked up. She's why I do what I do. And while she still may be more the exception to the rule, so was my dad. And a number of his sisters followed in his footsteps. (BTW, I am not discounting his older brothers who went to seminary, which was a huge step as well, I just think going off to school rather than joining the priesthood or joining the union was a big deal).

So, I will say for the record that I love my country. It's not perfect, and I get annoyed at times because I want it/us to be the best we can be. But all things considered, it's the best one around. And for all the evils of capitalism, I think it's one of the most effective systems around. Much, much more flawed than our country in general. But it uses the best and the worst of our human nature to make sure that everyone is taken care of. Or more so than any other system. Socialism is a super idea, but I haven't seen a really good alternative to what we have. I wish we had socialized medicine, but our canadienne doctor came here for a reason and credits her brother's very early death to colon cancer to a system that balked at extensive and expensive tests for a young man in his early twenties.

So, happy May Day all, regardless of your political views and affiliations. Let's use this day to recognize our similarities and our shared humanity. And hope for a better future for everyone near and far. And thanks to those of you who tend to lean farther right than I do-- you keep my mind open and help me keep perspective. The differences that we're allowed in this country is something I love most of all. We can get ugly and bitter and yell at each other and fight. But no one is "disappeared" for it. We might wish that our least favorite radio or TV commentor would be, though, but that's another story... ;)


Grant-Will-Rant said...

Excellent post! I really enjoyed reading this one.

Kelli in the Mirror said...

Yes, this was a very good post. Lots to think about.

Funny, I've never had a political discussion with your parents and it surprises me to hear you say you were raised by liberals. My parents are so conservative and I just always assumed growing up that yours were just like mine. :)