Tag Archives: english

Born-again Immigrant

Put yourself in the shoes of the rich and the poor; diseased and healthy; smart and dumb, knowledgeable and ignorant; gay and straight–do anything contrary to your lived-in reality and you’ll have willingly subjected yourself, admirably in that case, to an exercise in empathy. Notice the missing conjunction: or. Context and perspective are only possible when accompanied by a parallel yardstick, one that may even run perpendicular at certain intersections.

Citizen and immigrant are not two sides of the same coin, though our political environment on both sides tries to make us believe it. On the right, the separating line is a legal one, simply that of legal and illegal. On the left, the legal distinction isn’t a relevant one, because morality takes precedent; these are human beings, and by now I’m sure you’ve heard the latest slogan to come out of leftwing advocacy groups: No human being is illegal. I don’t agree with that sentiment, which is a dangerous thing to admit nowadays, because, while our laws aren’t perfect and can be quite cruel under certain circumstances, like those regarding immigration, the fact remains that our entire society depends upon adherence to these laws–this we call the rule of law–and to every other law that keeps this experiment in coexistence from explosive combustion. We have a process in place to amend, repeal or create new laws reflective of popular opinion, but that process is necessarily cumbersome–certainly burdensome for those trapped in the legislation–because it demands the deliberation of consequences, coupled with the consideration of those who stand to benefit or lose. The process is cruel in the same way that it’s cruel to put people in line when they are in desperate need of a heart transplant. But it’s the best we’ve got. Continue reading Born-again Immigrant

Fluency

I want to learn French. I’m in China and I want to get better at French. How seriously I want to learn French, I cannot say. Most likely, this is symptomatic of procrastination: I’m in China so I should learn Chinese. I think back to my college days—crazy how I can say that now—when I had papers to write, or tests to study for, and I would decide that, rather than begin working on papers or studying for tests, my time would be better spent reading a new book, or organizing my room, or doing laundry. Still, my desire to improve on my French is helped by the fact that, even though I could talk to the waitresses in Spanish or English, and be equally misunderstood, I automatically think in French; none of those languages would actually help me order anything here, I just find myself resorting to French, for no reason. Continue reading Fluency