Growing up, and listening to stories and advice offered by my parents to me and my siblings, a particular story stands out for me. Among other things, my father had been an Eagle Scout as a youth, and growing up a child of the Depression, had to deal with tough times and challenges. Recognizing the influence of that particular range of experience, I remember being really struck by something he shared one day.
He was describing how we were to save ourselves while achieving our goal, should we ever be in a situation where someone was drowning and we chose to swim out to them to save them. He pointed out that the natural reflex of someone in the desperate struggle for survival from the fate of drowning, would be to frantically grab onto anyone or anything that came within their range, to use them to keep themselves above water. But by doing so, the victim would pull the potential rescuer down, with them. My father was very clear that the only way to save oneself — and in the process be able to save the drowning victim — was to turn the tables on the victim and dunk them in the water, pulling them down into it. He further explained this should be done immediately if the victim so reacted, to prevent oneself from becoming too exhausted in the struggle to exercise that option. My father explained that this would inevitably cause the victim to let go of one, thus releasing the rescuer and who could then prevent his or her death, as well. While this seemed like quite a daunting thing to do, I realized it made complete sense, in a survival situation such as drowning and did, indeed, powerfully increase the chances of survival, for both the rescuer and the victim. I suppose this could be seen as a form of tough love. In any case, this life lesson in survival also serves me now, to see the wisdom of handling similar life situations with much at stake for all parties. Like the current world immigration problem.
It seems impossible these days to avoid the issue of immigration, and on a daily basis, whether in the United States, Mexico, Europe or Asia, that issue makes headlines. While the cultures, demographics, politics and geography involved in each case is different, ruling out outright intentions of terrorism, the underlying dynamics share a common causal element: all are fueled by movements of populations from an area of less desirable living conditions, to one that offers significant improvement. The elements of each group of immigrants present not only a wide range of scenarios, but it cannot be escaped that the attendant issues are dire, and represent large numbers of people. Headlines and the stories they announce contain situations of both humanitarian issues of actual survival from starvation or political repression or violent invasion, but also include violent criminals, sex slavery, rape, and child abuse, as well as contaminating illnesses, other threats and stated intentions to replace the existing cultures of those countries receiving the immigration flows. And as social psychology can attest, human behavior in groups can veer sharply and often violently from what one would expect on an individual basis, so this is a unique aspect, as well, of this problem.
Given this harsh reality, as well as the fact that immigration as a current world problem is not ”going away” any time soon, and certainly not by itself, I strongly feel that the example of trying to save a drowning person very aptly applies. Let’s take the example of the United States and the large migrations occurring from Central and South America into first Mexico and then the United States.
First, let us tackle the humanitarian aspects of this issue, and let’s do it in the most realistic and therefore powerful way. The following Youtube video presentation by Roy Beck — in only six minutes — lays out the most rational, straightforward approach. It is entitled Immigration, World Poverty and Gumballs and the facts and logic of what it presents are both dramatic and irrefutable: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPjzfGChGlE. I can summarize what Roy Beck presents, but I do encourage you to watch this incredibly powerful, short and unique presentation, yourself. Basically, using the World Bank’s definition of “desperately poor”, Roy Beck then translates that reality into a gumball presentation, and makes the point that the only chance of making a difference in these staggering and heart-breaking realities, is to help those populations in their own, home countries. To do otherwise would fail not only to even scratch the surface of the problem, as he graphically demonstrates, but would destroy any country attempting to offer such humanitarian aid, while hamstringing the very country they are trying to assist. In effect, like the Good Samaritan trying to save the drowning victim, both would become victims to the same fate, rather than the humanitarian country maintaining the ability to make a positive difference on behalf of the immigrants and their country of origin.
In today’s media discussions of immigration, humanity finds itself in an extremely polarized state. Attempting to make a positive difference in this world — whether over immigration or any other humanitarian cause — requires unity of vision and purpose. I therefore propose that politics, including perceived political correctness, prove the sincerity of their stated intent to give humanitarian aid to genuine immigrants in need, and follow the strength of wisdom, as stated in the gumball presentation. Genuine humanitarian purposes and efforts cannot be rendered if the intended rescuer drowns, rather than survives to help. Yes. Let’s help these people where they live.