REALITY CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE! GIVE IT A TRY! – Marilyn Armstrong

I got to thinking about what my world would look like if I (personally) got rid of everyone who isn’t white enough for this current America. I would have to remove my husband — and all my friends. And my entire family. After which I’d have to go, too. I may be white, but Jewish isn’t really white.

realitychangedmylife

Not merely is this a bad idea, it is impossible. People love to talk about this country as if we are (kind of) akin to Germany, and SCROTUS is (kind of) a version of Hitler. Except … in Germany, the different people were a relatively small number in a country where most people were the same. It was a homogeneous country. Which made it easy to pick out the ones who were different.

That was true all over Europe. It was easy to figure out who were the “different” ones. In most European countries, it’s still true.

Germany in the 1920s and 1930s was nothing like this country.

SCROTUS isn’t Hitler.
The United States isn’t Germany.

same-but-different

The number of not-white people in this country is larger than the number of whites. Yes, you heard me correctly. If you are one of the people who believe that facts mean anything, take a look at the numbers.

This is just the beginning. Not only do we have a lot of non-white citizens from everywhere in the world, but people marry each other. They will continue to marry, have children and eventually, the current madness will vanish and never come back.

None of this means anything. It’s nonsense. Utter crap.
The world is full of hate but in the end, haters are losers. 

Eventually, we will all be some shade of slightly off-white, medium tan, or terribly freckled. We aren’t getting rid of most of our population. Really.

THE BOTTOM LINE – Marilyn Armstrong

The battle over immigration is going all over the world. It is uglier and crueler here than elsewhere but make no mistake. European countries are turning away immigrants as energetically as we are — just without the cages for children. Their reasons are the same. There are so many immigrants and they need so much help, no country wants to be responsible for their welfare. Or pay their tab.

Is the U.S. being especially cruel and lacking in compassion? Yes, but I’m not sure how much worse we are than any other country doing the same thing. It’s just they aren’t jailing children.

There are a lot of countries at war, in the process of “ethnically cleansing” their population, or rife with drug cartels slaughtering whoever they feel like slaughtering. It’s going on in all continents throughout the world.

We may well be a particularly disgusting example of refugee rejection, but we are hardly alone. Until the international community gets together and fixes the problems that are driving people out of their native lands seeking refuge anywhere, no matter how improbable the likelihood of their succeeding, it will never end. Are we, as a nation, being less compassionate and meaner-spirited than other nations?

Refugees no one wants

Probably. I am pretty sure we are the only country jailing children.

It’s a matter of degree. Moreover, we seem to be the only place in the western hemisphere to which the refugees are headed. Where is Canada? Where are the other countries in South America? Where are the Europeans, Asians, and everyone else? Are they opening their borders?

I know we have a hateful, bigoted president who should never have been elected and I’m proud to say I didn’t vote for him, would never vote for him or anyone like him. But this current frenzy didn’t start because Trump is the president. It has been building for years and no one has had any idea how to fix it.

The bottom line is making the countries from which all these people are fleeing habitable and safe for them. Until we can make that happen, the problem will persist without remission. Maybe our next president won’t jail children, but he won’t be inviting the refugees into this country either.

The triangle of desperation

Obama deported many immigrants. Millions of them. He was just a nicer guy than Donzo. But he didn’t want them either. No one at the helm of this country — or any country — will allow millions of destitute refugees into their country.

They may be nicer about how they say no, but they will say no.

I’LL FLY AWAY … By Marilyn Armstrong

When I was a lot younger — in my teens — America didn’t look all that wonderful to me. It was before abortion became legal. Vietnam was in high gear and my first husband and I were close to bankrupt from having my spine repaired.

When I went into the hospital, we had $20,000 in the bank which in the U.S. in 1965, was enough to buy a house and maybe a car, too. In fact, our first house cost $19,200 and our car cost under $1000.

The first house

When I staggered out of the hospital (I was there for five months), we had $10 in the bank and owed the hospital a couple of thousand dollars more. I asked my husband if we didn’t pay them back, would they find me and break my back again?

Our first house in Boston

We cashed in everything we had, sold anything that had any value. Mind you, we had insurance. Just not enough insurance. Two years later, Owen was born with two club feet. It cost us about $500 every week to treat his feet. By the time he was walking almost normally, we were thousands of dollars in debt and never recovered.

There we were, deep in the Vietnam war. We had a lot of friends over there, too. We were lucky. Most of our friends came home.

We were young. Passionate. Sure we could fix it, whatever “it” was. We also wondered if we could move to Australia, Canada or somewhere we could earn a living, but in the end, we stayed in the U.S. It was home. We never imagined it would be as bad as it is now, but it wasn’t all that great back then, either.

When Jeff and I split up late in 1979, I moved to Israel with Owen and it became my “other: home. I became a citizen but in the end, I came back to the U.S. Because I knew where “home” was and it wasn’t there.

House in summer

I have been back since the end of the 1980s. Things got better, worse, then better, worse, better — and now, simply awful. Until Netanyahu was re-elected in Israel yesterday, I had this underlying belief that at least I had another home to which I could flee — if fleeing was what we had to do.

It turns out that any place we might go to has its own issues, most of which are as bad (and surprisingly similar) as ours. They may lack our disgusting, lying president, but they are battling over immigration, health care, taxes, the climate. Their politicians are also liars. More polite than ours. Not less sleazy but they have better manners.

Meanwhile, climate change will affect the entire world. All the pointless arguments in the world are not going to change that reality.

Is there anywhere for us to go? Is there a safe place with sane leaders who would want us? I think not.

First of all, we are old and not rich. Most countries, if they are looking for immigrants, are looking for young, well-educated people who will contribute to their economy or older people who have money. Israel would take us because I’m a citizen, but their problems are serious; I don’t see them improving soon.

The home in Baka, Jerusalem

Effectively, there is nowhere for us to go.

I think in years to come there will be only two kinds of people in this world: those who hate immigrants and immigrants.

Everyone else will be hiding in a cave.

NEWER MOMS AND POPS – Marilyn Armstrong

Garry came back from the deli with news. Lance and Betsy have sold the place and are retiring. Someone else is taking over.

Quaker Deli and its friendly and generous owners were among the very first people to welcome us to the valley more than 18 years ago. Until we got our feet under us and began to know our way around, it was a required stop in our daily rounds. They make great sandwiches and sell quality cold cuts. And they always know how we like it sliced.

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But time has had its way with them, as it does with us all. It’s what happens nowadays to almost all “mom and pop” shops. In this case, it’s not a lack of business. It’s simple tiredness. The kids don’t want the business. Mom and pop don’t want to spend all their remaining years on their feet. So, they sell.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing if only whoever takes over the place would keep it as what it is … a place to pick up a few necessities without going into town. Where you can buy a great lunch, made for you. Buy a lottery ticket or whatever. Most of the new owners of these shops are immigrant families. They see a small business as a ticket to the Dream of America.

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They don’t mind the long hours and hard work. But they don’t necessarily maintain the place in any way that resembles how it was. They go more heavily into higher volume, bigger profit items — like lottery tickets and cigarettes. They stop selling food and making sandwiches. This has happened to every little deli or mini grocery sold since we’ve lived in the Blackstone Valley. If it happens here, we will have to go into town for everything. The last convenience store will be gone.

I have heard over and over again that mom and pop stores are disappearing because we don’t support them, but that’s not necessarily true. It may be true sometimes, in some places. In this case, Lance and Betsey have plenty of business, maybe more than they can comfortably handle. All the truckers stop there to buy lunch. It’s the only place at this end of town where you can get an emergency supply of eggs or half-and-half.

The problem is that — not unreasonably — their kids have different dreams. They don’t want to run the family deli. They want a job where they can sit at a desk and go home without worrying about the business.

96-CountryStoreHP-3

Small business are nonstop work. Buying, selling, bookkeeping. Ordering supplies. Tracking sales and figuring out what you should buy in greater or less quantity … or just stop selling entirely. The shop may be closed, but there’s always work to be done. I’m sorry to see them leaving and we will miss them very much. But I understand. I couldn’t do it.

Among many other reasons, this is why we need immigrants. They will happily do the jobs we can’t or won’t do. Think about that the next time you begin to rail against newcomers to our shores.

Do you want that job? Could you do it? Would you?

THE PROMISE OF LOVE

The Reality, by Rich Paschall

When George made his visit to South America to meet the handsome young man,  Jon noticed their large age difference. He decided it did not matter if George would help him.  After all, this could be a way out of his situation in the poor suburb of the large South American city. So late each night he would steal the WiFi signal from a neighbor in the apartment next door and talk with George. This way he kept him close to his heart.

South American city

Jon was tired of being poor. He was sad he could not buy nice clothes and jewelry.  He was unhappy with his dismal living conditions. He was heartbroken he could not help his mother with her expenses.  He just wanted to get out.

Since his time in an acrobatic troupe did not result in much money, Jon took one job, then another.  Nothing satisfied him as he always worked long hours for little money.  He could not spend much time at the gym.  He could not enjoy the nightlife of the nearby city.

“Help me, George,” Jon pleaded one night.  “I want to keep going to the gym.  I want to have enough food to eat.  Please send me a little money.”  Jon’s stories may have been a bit of an exaggeration, but he was certainly very poor.  He was determined to tell George whatever seemed to convince him to send some money.

“OK, Jon.  I will send you something on payday.  Do not worry.” The periodic investment in the handsome Hispanic man seemed to bind them together, as least George thought so.

Jon also thought they were bound together, not just by a few US Dollars, but also by his constant declarations of friendship and love.

When a few months had passed since George’s impulsive visit, Jon wondered if the time was right to push his plan further along.  One warm night, Jon stood on the roof of his building and looked down on the poor buildings below, with their cheap block constructions, and old metal roofs.  It was a depressing site.

poor suburb

The bright lights of the city in the distance were a reminder he had not achieved his goal.  He could wait no longer. This was the night for action. He called George.

“We should get married, George,” Jon declared with confidence.

“What?” George said in a surprised voice that shook Jon a little.

“You should come here to marry me and we can live together in America.”  Jon waited for a reply, but there was nothing for a long minute.  Then George said Jon only wanted a way to come to America.  He did not actually want George.

The response upset Jon.  As he lay in bed in his tiny apartment, he decided he must not lose George now, after all the time he invested.  So he spent weeks declaring his love and asking for marriage without success.  George said he had no other boyfriend, so Jon did not understand why they could not be married.

When Jon felt the situation lasted too long he said to George, “You must tell me if we are boyfriends or no.  If you will not marry me, I must find another boyfriend.”

The conversation that followed last a long time, and after Jon insisted over and over he would be a good roommate and stay “as long as God wills,” George finally agreed.

Jon immediately researched what they needed to do to get married.  George gathered the documents Jon requested and sent them express.  The papers were filed and the waiting game began.  Almost the entire summer went by before Jon got the marriage license.

George came as promised. The wedding was held with only one friend of Jon’s in attendance to take pictures, and a translator for George to know what was happening.  When the ceremony was done, George, Jon and his friend Vanessa all went into the city to celebrate.  After just two married nights together, George was gone.

return to airport

The long process of getting a visa began.  Jon could not believe the complexity of the procedure or the number of documents he had to send to George.

“I have to get certified translations into English, Jon.  Then I will submit all.  You must be patient.”  It was hard to be patient, but George sent a little money every month and Jon could buy the food he wanted.

When the process had gone from Immigration, to the State Department, to the American embassy in Jon’s country, the nervous young man met with his good friend, Vanessa.

Jon told her everything that had transpired and they seemed to be getting near a decision.

“And you will leave here to go to this strange place you have told to me?” Vanessa said.

“Yes, of course,” Jon said.  He could see the disappointment in Vanessa’s eyes.  He could not tell if this was because he might leave his close friend or because he would leave his country for a foreign land.

“Are you crazy?  You are with him only a few days and for that you would leave us?” she asked.

“But we are working on this for a year now.  It will be my chance for a better life,” Jon said, but Vanessa replied with a look of doubt. After a short silence, she asked the important question.

“Do you think you will stay with this gringo once you get to America and meet other people?”

Jon’s eyes narrowed as he gave the matter serious thought.  He placed his right hand over his mouth and rubbed the left side of his face with his fingertips.  After almost a minute, he removed the hand from his face, smiled a little and said, “No.  Of course not.”

Then Vanessa laughed, but only a little.


Previously, in order:
I LOVE YOU (No You Don’t)
A SOUTH AMERICAN LOVE, A Romantic Player
A SOUTH AMERICAN PROPOSAL, The Deal

LIVING FOREIGN, BEING FOREIGN

The lack of sympathy for foreign-born immigrants in this country might have something to do with how few people in the U.S. ever lived in a different country. If you have never had to learn new customs, different cultural values, and another language, you probably don’t realize how complicated it can be.

With the best will in the world, not everyone learns a new language easily. Moreover, many customs are so ‘built in” to the way we interact with others, it can be hard to “unlearn” them. 

Smiling at strangers, for example, is very American. We do it automatically unless we are alarmed or frightened. In some other countries — Israel was one — a woman smiling casually at an unfamiliar man is considered a “come on.” Learning to not smile automatically is difficult. It’s a physical habit learned when we are very young.

I was also surprisingly bad at learning Hebrew. In almost a decade, I never became fluent. My son, on the other hand, was fluent in a few months. He had always been able to out-talk me in English, but a few months in Israel and he could out-talk me in two languages at the same time.

Israel was, overall, welcoming to newcomers. America, not so much. That makes everything harder for someone new to the country. Considering most non-Native people in the U.S. are immigrants or the children or grandchildren of immigrants — being nice shouldn’t be all that difficult. Remember your past. Remember your grandparents. Be civil and perhaps even a bit generous.

If you were never an immigrant, someone in your ancestry probably was. Being kind to those who come here from elsewhere should not be all a trial. Give it a try.

Hating foreigners is like hating yourself. 

STREETS PAVED WITH GOLD

A Different Road, by Rich Paschall


There are many people, especially those who live in third world countries I presume, who live in poverty, can not get a good education or good job, have infrastructure in need of building or repair, and have government leaders who only take care of the rich and those with special interests.  They have little hope of something better in their own country so they dream of going elsewhere.  If they can get a passport, a visa and enough money, many still aspire to travel to the USA.  When they arrive, all but the lucky few will eventually discover that they have moved to a country where many live in poverty, can not get a good education or good job, have infrastructure in need of building or repair, and have government leaders who only take care of the rich and those with special interests.  In fact U.N. Envoy Philip Alston (Australian) found things to be quite bleak. “The American dream, he says, is an ‘American illusion’.” (as reported on NRP.org).

another world

Once they have arrived, these immigrants can not turn around and go back.  They have sold everything and come with just a suitcase or two of clothes and memories.  Right wing nationalists will tell them to go home, but there is no home to return to.  They have already given up everything.  The only choice is to try to make the best of it.  Many will eventually succeed. Some will stay and struggle. Some will return to a land they had hope to give up forever.

These immigrants certainly did not expect the streets to be paved with gold, but they certainly felt the standard of living was high and almost everyone had instant success.  Life was just one large party where everyone dressed in good clothes, ate well and enjoyed the good life.  Some friends of mine who have come from other countries tell me that friends back home still believe in the great American Dream even when relatives who live here tell them it is not so.  What fuels this “streets paved with gold” thinking?  Why does anyone think someplace else is better if relatives say it is not? Do they not hear the discouraging comments of our right-wing politicians?

Paved with gold?

Anyone can see the road that they walk on
Is paved in gold
And it’s always summer
They’ll never get cold
They’ll never get hungry
They’ll never get old and grey

The Grass Is Greener:  If you live in an area where the prospects are bleak, it may seem logical to believe that life must be better somewhere else.  Your heart and mind may tell you, “This can not be all there is.”  From there you may make plans to travel to a place where life will be better.  It seems to be in our nature to believe in “the grass is greener somewhere else”, especially if you have no grass at all.

Depression and Hope: It is certainly depressing to live in a community, and in fact a country, where there is little hope to get ahead in society.  If you struggle to get enough food for your meager existence, then going elsewhere is the logical response.  If the US offers hope to you, then that may be your destination of choice.  But why do people see USA as the place to go?  What continues to fuel the belief for many that everyone lives on easy street in America?

Television:  Many successful American television shows are broadcast all over the world.  I watched The Simpsons in Spanish in Colombia, but there were also a variety of comedies and dramas.  Would “Friends” give you a good idea of what life is like in America?  Would any of the other long running comedies or dramas show an accurate picture?  Do the police procedurals, as many now call them, reassure people since the bad guy is always caught?  People are not living in poverty or struggling to get by in these shows.

Music Videos: For younger people there seems to be an endless supply of music videos in Spanish as well as English showing the non stop dance party.  Beautiful young people in fashionable clothes are dancing on rooftops and beaches, across New York City, Miami and Los Angeles and living the good life.  Everything must be good as everyone seems to be having fun.

These random thoughts of mine are supported by more than the anecdotal evidence provided by the tales of my neighbors.  If you live in or near a large US Metropolitan area, you can hear many stories that are the same if you care to listen.  As far back as Benjamin Franklin, people “have formed, through ignorance, mistaken ideas and expectations of what is to be obtained there.”  We have disappointed immigrants from the beginning, and their stories are always being told.

The sad stories of those who travel here are also the disappointments for many of us.  The wealthy class may get ahead through inheritance and connections, while the rest struggle.  At present, the government promotes the idea that the rich should get richer, as in the previously failed promise that the money in the pockets of the rich will somehow benefit all.  This trickle down nonsense is not portrayed in the American television shows and music videos playing in other countries.

Sources: The Way by Fastball, lyrics by Tony Scalzo, https://www.azlyrics.com
America Has Been Disappointing Immigrants For A Long Time by Jared Favole, https://medium.com
U.N. Investigator On Extreme Poverty Issues A Grim Report — On The U.S.” by Sasha Ingper, www.npr.org
U.S. students’ academic achievement still lags that of their peers in many other countries,” February 15, 2017, http://www.pewresearch.org

Also read: What international test scores reveal about American education,” Louis Serino,