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Friday, September 30, 2011

What is the Deal with this New Immigration Law that Alabama is Enforcing.

This is not an argument; this is only a story. I have no arguments. There really is no such thing as an objective argument. Only personal stories. -Of what one lives and experiences, thinks and believes. Hence we construct our views of Truth.

Once, many years ago, I recall driving from Alabama to Atlanta. I was on a main highway maybe an hour away from Atlanta. When my car broke down. Yes, it was a remarkable machine of contradictory moods and half-way destruction; Flip-lights and white. I loved that car but it was of a mercurial temperament. Anyways, she broke down on the side of this highway. And I sat in the median, without any knowledge of what to do. My car loaded with all types of books, but nothing worthy of car maintenance. (I wish quoting Shelly had a magical effect and could start a motor. I was soon to be wishing that if a person could quote the Bible, this being the steeple piercing horizon of the South, they'd magically stop their rush and help someone in need.)
It was an interesting place to be, for I sat on the trunk of my car and noticed all the traffic on either side of me like a sun-reflecting river. The sunlight hitting their windshields and the constant flow of cars. People coming and going. So many, many people. Everyone strangers. Everyone in a rush. But no one knowing about the stories or the lives in the vehicle next to them only in the space of a few yards. I was in a good position for a break down for I was up this gradual hill and could see the oncoming traffic and I knew that they could see me. In between these 2 highways of rumbling hurry, there was this beautiful median of grass, almost so large to be a meadow. I sat back taking it all in. I had no one to call for at this time, I didn't know anyone in the area. I would just wait on the good-naturedness of humanity that I was surrounded by.

Pretty soon, this good-naturedness I was hoping in, was more into rushing off to Atlanta to feed the homeless I am sure. I mean, so many people and not one would stop. I had my hazard lights on.And I don't look like a thug or punk, or even a hippie for I had short hair at this time. I mean, I even sort of resemble a Mormon when I have short hair. (Maybe that was the real reason no one stopped).

And I was in the South, where Southern Hospitality and Living for Jesus (pronounced with a strong "Jeee-sus!") are key words. But no. No one stopped. Not the flood of SUVs, suburban white families in route to the Atlanta Aquarium; I'd hate for them to lose a few precious minutes in front of a manta ray. Not the plethora of Ford Broncos, men who had worked hard all week in order to take a trip to a Braves Game. They shouldnt stop, I mean those baseball warm-ups are every bit as exciting as the actual game (Yes, exactly.) Not the myriad of business trippers who'd really like to check into their hotels before 5 o clock traffic envelopes Atlanta. (On this one, I am not being sarcastic and can actually understand.) Not even the church vans, on their route to Do What Jesus Would Do in today's world and go to Six Flaggs over Georgia. I mean, some poor kid may succumb to temptation and smoke a doobie if they don't get those kids to a roller coaster fast enough. However, no one stopped. But can I really hurl an accusation? For, I have been in their gas pedal pushing shoes as well and have not stopped. Enflamed by a tragic sense that I needed to get to where ever it was that I was going or the earth could very well blow up. Why stop? Poor schmuck, it was his dumb decision to not buy a reliable car, or gas up, or check his tires or whatever it was that has him on the side of the road. Not to mention the risks. This day and age crazy kids are likely to do anything. There could very well be a gang of kids with blonde hair and blue eyes, who sit around quoting Shelley, and when they have the chance they pose as pedestrians on highways, and cut out the heart (like Mary Shelley did with Percy Shelley's heart) of any who try to help. Dang kids will do anything for cheap, depraved entertainment these days.

Needless to say, I watched the cars. Like some enormously long funeral procession intent on burying the present moment and any kind act for the day. But from out of the zone of wheels turning to everyone's own individual predicament, this small, ugly, half-wreck of a car comes puttering out. Low-riding, with doors not matching the rest of the car. It stops right behind me. An instinct of caution forms for it looks like the type of car that would be a vulture of other cars or people stranded. Out hops this Mexican. He is very young, skinny. Is wearing a wife-beater, even has this skeezy little mustache that Hispanic jovens like to sport as an attempt to claim their much prized Machismo. A gold chain around his neck of some saint. I am sure he kisses it before making a dope sell. But he does the strangest thing. He helps me. He gives my car a momentarily quick fix. He completely shatters my stereotype of Hispanic youth, while probably affirming his own stereotype of us WASPs. "These white kids don't know how to do anything" I am sure he is thinking.
And then he even escorts me to the nearest car shop; follows me in his car which looks like it could use a visit there as well. I do not know this guy. I mean for all I know he could've been a Republican Senator's dark-skinned son. He could've even been in the military and had fought off a whole troop of Al-Qaeda spies. But I'd be willing to bet that none of these are true, and that the chances are pretty high that he was an illegal alien. I hate to stereotype...No, actually, I love to stereotype. I mean, if it isn't apparent from reading this. I stereotype everyone. I can't help it. From SUV drivers to Hispanics, from Church Van Drivers to Brave Fanatics. We all do it. I guess the problem is when we expect everything to actual fall into these stereotypes and leave little room for the good of someone to come out. The question is not whether he was an illegal alien or not. The question is...why should this even matter? He was just this kind individual who did a good deed. Alright, so Mexico could've beaten Brazil in some huge Soccer match that most Americans don't watch and he was ecstatic and loved everyone for a short time (there I go again) or he was merely doing Catholic penance for the shoot out he had at Grande Jose's Pool Hall (I just can't stop and need to do penance myself).

But it strikes me now, out of all those people that saw me broke down on the side of the road, it wasn't the church pastor who stopped or the theological seminary student who pulled over (albeit, if I know seminary students, this was probably due to his inability to fix a car as well). It wasn't the humble grandfatherly farmer, nor the leader of the local Boy Scout troop. No, it was some poor, young, delinquent looking Mexican. Who if I saw at Walmart, I'd assume he was a punk who was probably going to get free movies out of the Redbox machine. And the chances that he was an illegal are pretty high.

Reading the recent news on the Alabama Immigration Law made me remember this incident. Which really has nothing to do with the law. And it has nothing to do with labor rights. But everything to do with humanity, with judging, with the one thing that is beyond the law, compassion, with the idea of who exactly is our neighbor.

I don't know if you made the connection, but if you took this story and stripped it off its modern trappings. It is exactly the Good Samaritan Story retold. I had the fortune of witnessing this age-old plot play out right in front of me. This story makes me ashamed of this law being passed in Alabama and how kids, not different than you or I, are not going to school because they fear being deported. I'm sorry, I see nothing redeemable in this law. It seems very hateful and shows lack of perception. Thank you, state of Alabama, for making more Good Samaritans more and more rare.


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