Thursday, January 31, 2008

Yes, No, and Off? (The Opposite of War is not Peace)

Some people say that the world is “black or white” or that an answer is either “yes or no” but I disagree. Some say that the opposite of war is peace. But I say there is another opposite, which is cold war, which is actually opposed to both war and peace. Let me explain more.

Here is an example. Look at a light bulb. It is either off or on, right? Well, for the most part, yes. But there is another option other than off (off=no) and on (on=yes). This option is, there is not light bulb in the socket to be engaged in the first place.

The same goes for war, peace, and cold war. In war, people are openly engaged and fighting. In peace, people are openly engaged and being peaceful. In cold war, there just isn’t an open engagement, just like a light bulb that isn’t in a socket in the first place. A person might say this is a bad example and give all kinds of points of how in a cold war countries are subvertly engaged and really hurting each other, but that is besides the point, I am just trying to make a general point about life and not the fine subtleties of cold war.

To me, what I am trying to say is that with any issue, with any question, the answer is not ever as simple as just yes or no. Sometimes the answer is one of absence of yes or no. For instance, a person might ask, “Are you a Republican or Democrat?” and then a person can say “Yes or No.” But a third option exists and that is one of non-engagement, or the answer of, “I am not registered to vote,” or maybe “I am Independent.”

Really, when I was younger I use to think that many situations in life were either “yes or no” type of situations. Now I realize that everything is “yes, no, or not engaged.” And if I have not made things confusing already, there is one more thing that needs to be considered, which is “How much?” So for instance with a light bulb that is on, how much or how often is it on? Is it a 45 watt or 90 watt? Is it on everyday all the time, or only an hour a day? These are questions of intensity. If two countries are in peace, how peaceful are they? Do they trade a lot or a little? How long have they been trading? These are important “intensity” questions because they describe just how real and stable the peace really is. The likewise for war, “Are they killing a lot of men?” and/or “Have they been killing for a long time?” The same goes for the Republican or Democrat issue. Maybe a person is a Democrat and always votes. Maybe they vote Republican sometimes. Maybe they don’t ever vote. These are intensity issues and are also very important to consider above and beyond a simple yes or no perspective.

Say another example could be that somebody owes you money.  There are not just two options, but at least three broad options.  The first is of befriending and charming them in hopes of winning them over to pay you back.  There is another of scaring them and threatening violence so they will be forced to pay you back.  The third option is to do neither and just wait hoping they will pay.  While these options listed are not the total list, I gather most options can be labeled as either positive interactions, negative interactions, or non-interactions.  And of course a person might try a combination and mis-match of these too, but at the root, there are really just the three options.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Welcome a Mexican.

Sometimes I wonder about America, this country I love. There are so many great things here compared to other places, I won’t even go into them not because this blog will be more than long enough as it is, but one thing I have seen that I would like to talk about is something I see discussed more and more today. “Illegal immigration” is a topic that is all over the news these days and I often here people saying that all the Mexicans should go home, or that the US should be a better fence along the border. I can understand some of the points that these people are making. They are after all logical. It should seem that the US should keep tighter control on the borders, and if the US needs more immigrants, than let them come in legally with visas. In a perfect world, maybe this would be the answer. Instead, the US government blatantly and openly allows companies to employ illegal aliens to do work that for the most part most Americans don’t want to do. This is in effect “inviting” them to come here.

These days there are more and more jobs that more established Americans who come from families who have lived in America for generations don’t want to do. A long time ago one’s grandfather might have been more than happy to be a factory worker, groundskeeper, or restaurant worker, but now more and more people are going to college and want service related jobs. This leaves a void in certain areas of employment markets that are currently being filled by undocumented immigrants.

I gather what I am trying to say is that the system is imperfect, but what is bothering me, what I am writing this blog about is not an imperfect system; it is the people’s reaction to this system that saddens me so much. I look around and I see a great country, rich with natural resources and blessed with a solid system of education for almost all (albeit not always equal, but for those who try, and those that want it enough, it is possible for almost anyone to get a solid education, even a Ph.D. if one wants.) But what I hear is the people saying that all the Mexicans should go home. African Americans are afraid the Hispanics will edge them out as the largest minority and compete for resources. Caucasian Americans are afraid that Hispanics will just someday be a plain majority. The poor in all ethnicities are afraid that the Hispanics are taking away jobs from them. So many groups seem to be voicing opposition towards the undocumented aliens, and why? Greed.

I said it. All of these groups are selfish. They have been given the grace of having been born in a prosperous country rich with opportunity for those who are willing to work for it and many if not most are doing okay. But instead of thinking of what they can share, give, and bless upon others, they think about what they might lose. I say so what if you lose a little, look how much the undocumented aliens have gained. They have earned 5-10 times the amount of money they could have back where they were raised. They are living with more amenities, and they buying better food and clothes. If America could welcome them, they could rejoice in this experience. Instead, they always fret and fear for the worst. But they send money home and their children go to better schools and the undocumented aliens continue to improve things here by doing work in America. This work they do, actually probably improves the economy. The Mexicans doing manual labor jobs frees up the job market for other Americans to do other things, like be nurses, doctors, and teachers.

I wish in America, a country where all Americans with the exception of the true Americans, the Native Americans, have all descended from immigrants and mostly been able to prosper to greater wealth generation after generation would be more welcoming to this new wave of immigrants. I do not think, feel, or believe that they will take away from America, but time will show that they make it better. I feel like they will bring more diversity and through their strengths will make America even stronger. And I feel like it is time that these poor immigrants who risk life to come here to work an honest days work start to be treated with respect and welcomed for the benefits they bring and will continue to bring to this great country.