Friday, May 12, 2006

One of the things that amazes me every time the subject of immigration comes up, is the view of some poeple that there is something fundamentally wrong with the millions of people who want to come to the US to find a better job, a better education, a better life. You know what I'm talking about -- the nasty comments about immigrants being lazy, only wanting to take advantage of our welfare system or medical services, being selfish or self-centered.

The determination to take care of your family, even if it means traveling hundreds or thousands of miles away from them, even if it means risking imprisonment, low wages and harsh working conditions, can only be seen as a testament to the power of love and the human drive to lead a dignified life. How the willingness to make such sacrifices and face such hardships so one's family can live a better life can be called selfish, lazy, usurious... well, it beats me.

If my child was ill and had no access to a doctor, I would want to bring it to a doctor. If my family had to go hungry, or do without shoes, I would want to find a decent job to give them that. If I had to live forever in fear of my own government, or my neighbors, I would want to flee with my family to someplace safer. How could that possibly be evil?

One of the most basic precept of secular humanism is that you should not do to others what you would not want them to do to you, which is, of course, the golden rule taught by so many religions. Denying medical care, safety, or jobs to people who need them, in my books, counts as something I wouldn't want people to do to me.

I find it even more bewildering that those kinds of comments, along with disdainful regard for immigrants maintaining their culture and customs, come from people whose ancestors -- and often not so distant ancestors - were once in the exact same boat -- poor, looking for a better life, discriminated against, acused of not being willing to assimilate as they chose to speak German, Italian, Yiddish, Swedish, Dutch, dressed in their own clothing, maintained their own religions (yes, the Amish are still here to this day, as are the Quakers, and the Christian Scientists, etc, etc).

Solutions to some of the immigration problems facing us as a nation -- how to safeguard our borders without discriminating against certain groups, how to ensure timely processing of residency and citizenship applications, and what to do with the nearly 12 million immigrants who are here illegally -- are not simple. But xenophobia, racism, cultural elitism, and irrational fears don't help matters in the least. They only complicate matters, muddying the waters and making rational decisions elusive.

It seems to me that easy immigration is key -- we should be allowing in most the people who want to come in. America consumes and controls the vast majority of the world's wealth. Natural resources should not be the province of a few lucky people. Rather, they should serve to enrich all the world's people. As such, America has an obligation to share its wealth with the world -- in the form of jobs, education offerrings, and in the form of economic aid to developing countries so they can build up their infrastructure so there will be less need for people to come here to make a decent living.

We should be strenuously promoting human and civil rights, the rule of law and due process across the world (rather than propping up dictators who serve us, undermining popularly elected governments who don't, and toppling regimes who no longer prove useful...).

If we really want to stem the tide of immigration, the only real solution, is to make the entire world a desireable place to live, not just a handful of countries.

The Qur'an has a beautiful passage that expounds upon this idea. It's in the chapter called Women, and it spans parts of verses 36 an 37: Be good to your parents, to relatives, to orphans, to the needy, to neighbors from among your people and neighbors who are strangers, to the friend by your side and the wayfarer, and to those who have been enslaved. God does not like the arrogant, and boastful, those who hoard their wealth and encourage others to be miserly.”

Would that everyone took such messages to heart.
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Progressive Muslim, feminist, mom, writer, mystic, lover of the universe and Doug Schmidt, cellist, theologian and imam.

What I'm reading now

Cane River
An interesting exploration of the gradual whiting of a family through slavery to modern days.

To see an archive of all the books I've read (well the ones I've read and review since I started the blog) with comments, please click here

Causes Worth Supporting

This is just a short list -- a few of my favorites.

English Language Islamic Fiction. We need more of it. Lots more.
Pay a Teacher's Salary in Afghanistan. The Hunger site actually has a lot of worthwhile programs. You can find them all here .
Muslims for Progressive Values. My organization. We can always use donations, of time or money!
Human Rights Campaign for the glbt community
National Religious Campaign Against Torture
The ACLU I'm a card carrying member. Hope you'll become one too. The organization that has done the most, as far as I can tell, to pull the countries progressive side together.
Network of Spiritual Progressives. Working to reclaim religion and morality for the religious left.

Blogs Worth Reading

Wanda Campbell also known as Nochipa A very gifted poet and a gentle, compassionate soul. Nochipa and I are on the same page on sooooo many things
Writeous Sister Aminah Hernandez, she's got some excellent latino pieces and always has good writing info on her blog.
Sister Scorpion aka Leila Montour - Leila is a fount of energy, quirky humor, and bad attitude. She's also a talented poet.
Muhajabah Very interesting commentary here. I don't always agree with her, but her pieces are always thought-provoking.
Georgie Dowdell Georgie is a great writer and a good friend.
Louise Marley Another great writer. I think Louise is one of the best sf writers exploring faith themes.
Ink in My Coffee Devon Ellington (who has numerous aliases) who is also the editor of Circadian Poems. A truly inspiring woman with a seemingly endless supply of energy.
Ethnically Incorrect With a name like that, isn't a given I'm going to enjoy this writer?
Freedom from the Mundane Colin Galbraith, another excellent writer, from Scotland.
The Scruffy Dog Review This is a new e-zine with an ecclectic mix of fiction, poetry, and non-fic, some really enjoyable pieces here.
Ramblings of a Suburban Soccer Mom Lara, another gentle soul, very thoughtful.
Circadian Poems A journal of poetry, new stuff up all the time.
Ye Olde Inkwell Michelle writes romance and is one of my writing buddies.
Muhammad Michael Knight The original punk Muslim writer. Like him or love him, Mike is always coming up with the unexpected.

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