The Inner Bottom Line ®
A Syndicated Column on Personal Choices & Ethical Dilemmas by Olive Gallagher
“When Did We Get So Superior?”
Once upon a time, America was considered the land of opportunity; a place where gold lined the streets and any person willing to work hard could start with nothing and end up with pie-in-the-sky; whatever one could dream. I wouldn’t be here today if my grandparents or great-grandparents hadn’t been permitted to immigrate to this country, much less allowed to become citizens, and I’ll bet many of you reading this column share a similar heritage.
I mean, come on, all the way back when, it was only Native Americans and the Spanish. All you have to do is make a trip to Santa Fe, where I lived for a number of years, to realize how “un-white” early America was and who really had control of the land and its resources. Most Americans must acknowledge that their taken-for-granted, invaluable legacy was made possible for them by someone on their family tree who traveled with little but the clothes on their back to these shores, were then allowed to enter America, and somehow found a way to build the life that you now enjoy today.
Granted, times are tough everywhere right now, not just in America. And the components of the issue are complicated. But times have been rough before. And like so many other politicized issues, haven’t we also created a much bigger problem by complicating it with our narrow minds and hearts? Today, wealth is dangerously unbalanced between a small percentage of “haves” and a disparate percentage of those with a “disappearing little or not much at all.”
But still, if one gets beyond the statistics and rationalizations and honestly examines underlying attitudes and philosophy, one is compelled to ask: when did the majority of us turn our backs on welcoming newcomers with the same spirit our own families were met with way back when?
When did we get so selfish and perfect that we feel our common ground is just too good to share with anyone else; that we are sufficient until ourselves? How did we become so superior that we’ve lost the ability or generosity of spirit that could allow us to recognize the enormous raw talent and skills that immigrants are able and willing to provide if only they could get a fair chance?
And at the heart of it all: When did immigrant become a dirty word?
we would be wise as a nation to step back and think about the possible answers
to that question and face the real issue at the heart of it before we fire back
with all the negative reasons why foreigners are bad for our country.
I’m, in essence, a foreigner and so are you. Does sharing our legacy with others who are newer at this, willing to give up everything and come, and work hard to stay, taint all the apples in the barrel? Should those, as some insist, with a certain ethnic or national background, be discarded, merely on that basis?
In all of the noise and rhetoric, what we’ve also overlooked is something that makes all of this even more tragic: the priceless element of “hope” is intrinsically embedded in the entire concept of immigration. I think our country could use a huge dose of unadulterated hope right now. Underlying so much of our national portrait today lurks the ugly underbelly of prejudice, racism and outright hatred, all sitting on a regretful and pathetic bed of ignorance. That’s shameful and embarrassing. Have we as a people, a nation, a culture, a species learned nothing?
That attitude, that condition, on The Inner Bottom Line, is not only unacceptable, it’s disrespectful, unfair and completely lacking in integrity. Regretfully, it speaks more to our lapse of character than it does about the land of the free and the home of the brave.
You can send questions or comments about your ethical dilemmas and personal choices directly to Olive at [email protected]. All letters are anonymous and confidential.
The Kindle and audio versions of Olive’s book, The Nude Ethicist: A Simple Path to The Good Life™, are still available on amazon.com.