We’re halfway through one of our epic road trips, meandering our way through states that include the Appalachian Mountains – Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, so far. Despite being the end of October, it’s startling to see what’s missing from the scenery.
There’s no color!
The trees remain shades of green with none of the brilliant reds, burnt orange, and vibrant golds of this season. It’s as if the trees themselves have noticed that our country is struggling to come to terms with all that we should be celebrating – the vibrant colorful diversity that has made this country so great.
Part of this trip is about tracing family – and mine goes way back to the first few hundred years of immigrant pale people coming to this country. This land has traces of humans who lived remarkably creative lives, and then left behind traces of civilizations millennia before my ancestors showed up. Although I don’t know the entire story, I do know that my people chose to leave their homes, their families, and all that was familiar to seek the opportunity represented by this new land.
Side note here – it appears my predecessors came to fight on behalf of the conservative forces – the British – against the rag tag band of revolutionaries trying to take down the reigning authority, King George. I’ve got both Hessian soldiers and a connection to Benedict Arnold in my background.
The promise and potential of this country has been a magnet for all who are here now – and all those who seek to add their talents and energy to our future. Families, mothers, children, young men, and women come here seeking a better tomorrow – and this country has fulfilled that promise for generations since the 1700s.
Yet somehow – today – there are those who want to pull up the bridge to that better future. This whole debate about immigrants is absurd within a nation of immigrants. The only people in my home state who should argue about the value of immigrants are the descendants of the Iroquois whose ancestors truly settled what we call Ohio.
Let’s be clear about our terms. In this country, we are all immigrants. All of us who don’t trace ancestors to Native Americans.
And based on the events of the past week, the largest risk to domestic tranquility in this great land of ours comes from white men – men who are prone to believing demonstrably crazy conspiracy theories with no basis other than delusional thinking, brewed in a stew of frustration and some belief that their lives would have turned out better if everyone not identical to them were out of the picture.
Instead we’re being asked to believe that a caravan of a few thousand Central Americans is the big risk – a few thousand people seeking a better life in a land of 326 million people. Context here is really important – although some seek to use this caravan as a fearful threat, listen to the stories of people seeking safety and a better life, as did my ancestors three hundred some years ago. Actually, my ancestors may have been the bigger threat, having come here to fight against the emerging democracy. These migrants will go through legal channels to achieve what mine did with guns.
We do have things to fear in this country. We should fear a partisan culture that is vilifying anything perceived as “other” amidst an environment where blaming “them” for our own issues has become a national sport.
This isn’t who we fought to become in this grand experiment. Admittedly, my ancestors lost their fight to retain the King’s supremacy in this country, but I can assure you that their progeny have all been actively engaged in retaining the freedoms of this nation, including the freedom and wisdom to continue welcoming the immigrants who make this the vibrant land it is. That includes the right to vote. Seek the moderates. Seek those who will understand that politics is about seeking solutions, not dividing people.
We’re on the road for another week and I continue to hope for the colors of fall. The trees are boring without them in this season, and frankly, so are we.