11.05.18 | The Immigration Challenge
It's the very picture of the irresistible force meeting the immovable object. That Central American caravan, making its way toward the promised land more than a thousand miles to the north, overwhelmed the tiny bridge which served as the border control between Guatemala and Mexico as if it were a mere speed bump.
Now zoom in. That's no caravan. That's more like an exodus -- simply thousands of individual souls just like the Joad family and the other Oakies who swarmed west trying to escape the Great Depression dust-bowl of the 30s. In fact, the Oakies had it relatively easy i.e. at least they weren't the victims of criminal gang activity and the language of their destination was their own. One can only imagine how bad conditions must be such that the hardship, uncertainty, and the misery that powered this irresistible force make the journey look better by comparison.
Now zoom out. Fifteen thousand troops (announced this morning) are to be dispatched to our southern border. It's the immovable object squaring off against "the invasion." Without such a muscular defense of our borders, the argument goes, we are a country in name only. The battle lines having been drawn, this made-for-television showdown is perfectly timed for the midterms. The high-fives are at the ready.
But what a linear perspective that is. Instead, let's try and view the same phenomenon through the wider lens of the more Eastern philosophical cyclical traditions we discussed last week (MM, 10/29/2018). Where might all this fit within the rhythm of the ages?
Let's start with America itself. Our very first member Monday session (Member Monday (6/26/2016)/A People's History Of the United States) was Howard Zinn's historical account of our great country told, not through the textbook tales of the victors, but through the eyes of the vanquished. Those white European settlers made up the original "caravan" which eventually made the country their own in the name of manifest destiny.
We then discussed (Member Monday (7/30/18)/Fate of Empires) the life-cycles common to ten empires over the last four thousand years -- the breakout phase; the absorption of the conquered; the age of affluence; and then the age of intellectualism with the eventual path to disintegration. History suggests ten generations of twenty-five years each make up the typical life-cycle.
We saw from those earlier accounts the insidious way that wealth saps the ancient virtues of courage, energy, and patriotism necessary to defend borders. Greed replaces duty and public service as the empires become more defense oriented. And so it was that the influx of foreigners, while essential to the earlier growth of the respective empires, tended to introduce cracks and schisms in the latter stages of assimilation.
So where does that lead us now? Our policy response to the current and upcoming knocks on our door might very well reflect the confidence we have in ourselves as a nation. The truth is we're running a bit ragged right now as we sit in the midst of other super-cycles (Member Monday (3/20/17)/The Fourth Turning). And, indeed, the sheer numbers out there are themselves daunting. There already seems to be too much Pluribus and not enough Unum.
That, of course, is fear talking. Speaking of which, when it comes to the subject of diversity see (ex)Governor Lamm's epic 2004 speech (below) for a glimpse of the skull.