How to Bring About Reconciliation

Because the issue of illegal immigration is becoming increasingly divisive, a force of reconciliation must be introduced. If it is not, our generation may come to realize that while the problem of the Twentieth Century was the problem of the color line, the problem of the Twenty-first Century is the problem of the restricted citizenship.

salgado_press.jpg

If reconciliation—reconciliation for all—is not discovered in a profound way, nativism may become as cancerous to our century as racism has been in the past and continues to be. The force of reconciliation we so desperately seek is found in love – not the love of the troubadours, but the love of Jesus of Nazareth, Mohandas Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr. The love which can reconcile is the kind of love that says ‘I refuse to let you dehumanize me, and I refuse for our mutual advantage.’ This is the kind of love that is so pure that it loves the neighbor as much as the self. It is the kind of love that sees the truth that both persecutor and persecutor are equally damaged by injustice.

If love is the method used to confront the system of oppression known as immigration restrictions, reconciliation will be realized.
Underlying all objections to open immigration is the faulty premise that mankind is in competition with each other. This mindset fails to realize the interconnectivity of reality. Dr. King said it well when he stated,

“We are tied in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. And whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. As long as there is extreme poverty in this world, no one can be totally rich, even if he has a billion dollars. As long as diseases are rampant and millions of people cannot expect to live longer than 28 or 30 years, no one can be totally healthy, even if he just got a checkup in the finest clinic of the nation. Strangely enough, I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. And you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.”

I can never be a citizen as long as an equal is denied citizenship. Shakespeare’s Tybalt exclaims to Benvolio,

What, drawn, and talk of peace! I hate the word,

Tybalt, never having known peace, has come to hate the word because for him it represents what the U.S. Navy calls “perpetual pre-hostility.” The word peace, when sounded in Tybalt’s ears means cowardice and dishonesty. Such is the word citizen for me. When I hear the word ‘citizen,’ what I hear is exclusion. Much like the message sent by a conspicuously absent symbol, when I read ‘citizen’ I see the absence of ‘person,’ and I am reminded that America is not yet what it ought to be.As long as there is a restriction of moral persons at the border, I can never truly move freely. Dr. King realized that “If democracy is to live, segregation must die.” So, too, must restricted citizenship. I will never know democracy until all have the opportunity to choose it. So I can say with the “illegal” immigrant as well as with Langston Hughes,

Oh yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath,
America will be.

martinlutherkingsermon.jpg

Dr. King said in a speech he called Rediscovering Lost Values:

“All reality hinges on moral foundations. In other words, that this is a moral universe, and that there are moral laws of the universe just as abiding as the physical laws. I’m not so sure we all believe that. We never doubt that there are physical laws of the universe that we must obey. We never doubt that. And so we just don’t jump out of airplanes or jump off of high buildings for the fun of it—we don’t do that. Because we unconsciously know that there is a final law of gravitation, and if you disobey it you’ll suffer the consequences—we know that. Even if we don’t know it in its Newtonian formulation, we know it intuitively, and so we just don’t jump off the highest building in Detroit for the fun of it—we don’t do that. Because we know that there is a law of gravitation which is final in the universe. If we disobey it we’ll suffer the consequences.
But I’m not so sure if we know that there are moral laws just as abiding as the physical law. I’m not so sure about that. I’m not so sure if we really believe that there is a law of love in this universe, and that if you disobey it you’ll suffer the consequences. I’m not so sure if we really believe that. Now at least two things convince me that we don’t believe that, that we have strayed away from the principle that this is a moral universe.

“All I’m trying to say to you is that our world hinges on moral foundations. God has made it so. God has made the universe to be based on a moral law. So long as man disobeys it he is revolting against God. That’s what we need in the world today: people who will stand for right and goodness. It’s not enough to know the intricacies of zoology and biology, but we must know the intricacies of law. It is not enough to know that two and two makes four, but we’ve got to know somehow that it’s right to be honest and just with our brothers. It’s not enough to know all about our philosophical and mathematical disciplines, but we’ve got to know the simple disciplines of being honest and loving and just with all humanity. If we don’t learn it, we will destroy ourselves by the misuse of our own powers.

“This universe hinges on moral foundations. There is something in this universe that justifies Carlyle in saying, “No lie can live forever.” There is something in this universe that justifies William Cullen Bryant in saying, “Truth, crushed to earth, will rise again.”

The purpose of this web log is to discuss ways in which nonviolence–in all its intricacies, and as taught by Gandhi and King–can be used to end immigration restrictions. It is a neo-abolitionist web log.

website metrics

Advertisements