I just watched a video of Washington State Governor Jay Inslee, Congresswoman Suzan DelBene, and others voicing their outrage at President Trump’s ban of immigrants, refugees and travelers from selected Middle Eastern countries. Other speakers included Lance Lyttle, Managing Director of SeaTac Airport and Port of Seattle Commissioner, Courtney Gregoire. Their speeches focused upon the people, the families affected who are at SeaTac and the pain they see this Executive Order creating in the lives of many innocent people. They made many valid points, none disputing the need for high security and vetting of immigrants from the involved countries.
Initially I personally agreed overall with what these individuals had to say. After watching a later press conference with White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, I realized that there are details not being shared in the press: such as the numbers of those detained, why they were detained and for how long. Without details it is possible to take away a very inflated view of what is going on. After getting a little more from both sides of the story, I have to say there is much more to be considered than I think much of the polarized press is bringing forward.
I still am not entirely sure what to think about the temporary bans. I do understand after how loosely immigration has been handled in the U.S. the past couple decades or more, it may take some time to be sure an adequate system of vetting immigrants from high risk countries is in place. I am sure that the U.S. has been involved with rendering these countries unlivable for a lot of people and has an inherent responsibility to be involved with assistance and reparations.
What I also realized while watching the video of the press conference regarding SeaTac airport, is that there were references to “our country” and “this country” as if whoever was speaking was vocalizing the sentiment of the general population of the United States. Right now our nation is so fragmented in our perceptions of what the problems are and how to remedy them that I venture rarely, if ever, can anyone actually take a position and claim to be speaking for “our country”. Doing so is actually risking being quite presumptuous and misleading. As a nation, it seems the issues of what our national values are and how they apply to our practical reality are very much up in the air.
As a generalization, it certainly appears the various geographically, economically disparate segments of the population are very much out of touch with each other. We’re fragmented so badly it is difficult to recognize that this is supposed to be a “united” group of states. Donald Trump didn’t create this fragmentation. In the long run will his policies and actions work to remedy it or exacerbate it? This remains to be seen, but he didn’t create it.
This fragmentation has come about from a variety of contributing factors. One of these factors which has played a large role in creating the divisions and dissatisfaction within the U.S. population is decades of “business as usual” politics. Decades of individuals and relatively small groups within the U.S. seeking and acquiring inordinate wealth and power while only valuing and serving their own special agendas. In light of this reality I have to say I have serious reservations about Donald Trump’s actions serving to correct this underlying condition. Is there a Donald Trump the public servant who can adequately differentiate himself from Donald Trump the financial profiteer? Will Donald Trump be able to recognize the need for and wisdom of supporting and strengthening the established social programs, such as Social Security and Medicare, which greatly contribute to a stable, healthy citizenry? Will he be able to envision ways to ensure needed services such as quality healthcare and education are kept affordable and available to the general population?
Combined with the growing acquisition of power on the part of a relatively small group of extravagantly wealthy individuals, the individuals who hold the high elected offices within our government who we empower to be serving “us” as a whole, have been incrementally opting out of the role of representing the whole of the population. This has been taking place over the same decades that power has been incrementally acquired by the extravagantly wealthy. There is much information, evidence, truth behind all the statements going on that our elected officials/representatives have been bought. We have allowed becoming a President, Senator or Representative to become a career much more akin to private enterprise than public service. One that not only allows but encourages individuals to capitalize upon their influence and rake in exorbitant wealth for doing so. We have allowed an unhealthy peer culture to establish itself in the halls of national power. One that has turned predaceous; feeding upon, pulling apart, the nation it is supposed to be working to preserve.
We, the average citizens, are not going to profit from name calling and engaging in more divisive thinking and rhetoric. We need to be sitting down together, speaking truthfully, with respect, to one another and listening carefully to what the “other” has to say. I think by and large we will find there is not a great difference in our motivations, hopes and dreams. We need to understand how we arrived at this place of perceived and real rifts and disagreements. Then we can begin to construct remedies that work for most, if not all, of us.
We need to become a citizenry and a regulatory government that think in terms of a national “we”, not just an individual “me”. And we need to realize that “profit” should not be measured simply in personal material wealth. The overall well-being of our neighbors, our communities and our nation, including how our nation is seen within the world community, are essential to our personal well-being. The national well-being is an extremely valuable, essential component of the profit we should all be seeking from our combined efforts.