Image credit: http://www.leadertelegram.com.
I live and work in a school district where the recent bond for new school construction, among other things, failed by a very slim margin. I could see both sides of the issue, and know that besides the people who point to holes in ceilings and dripping pipes, the people who worry about trusting a district with large sums of vaguely-designated funds also have legitimate reasons for their lack of trust.
A rumor going around one of the high schools regarding a certain blog comment (not on this blog) is a lot more alarming. The rumor is that someone had voiced an opinion to the effect of “I’m not going to pay for new schools for a bunch of aliens.” I tried to substantiate this, but failed. I hope it’s not true.
But if it is true–whoa. I, for one, am glad that the good people of Iowa didn’t feel the same way when my Dutch ancestors moved to the neighborhood, or the fine folks of Pennsylvania when my Swedish great-grandparents took up residence!
Didn’t almost all of us, as we learned in our social studies classes, originally come from someplace else? Perhaps the blog commenter just forgot, or was absent that day.
I wonder if it would make a difference if he or she (or others, who feel the same way), got to know some of these “aliens.” Like a young friend of mine who took an extra week of Christmas vacation to study at a Mexican church for hours a day all week for his First Communion. Or my little Ethiopian friend, who celebrated Orthodox Christmas this week on a school night. He went to bed at 4 am, but he was at school the next morning with his customary smile and terrific attitude. Or take a high school friend, half black and half Korean, who annually receives well-deserved awards for her smarts, hard work, and leadership in class, extracurricular clubs, and sports. These, and many, many like them, are good, sweet kids.
Many kids in my district do come from all over the world. Their families have traveled here for jobs, or for religious or political freedom. Just like my own ancestors, and probably yours, they have come to this country looking for a better life.
It might be wise for the blog commenter to remember one thing that is quite different today than our ancestors’ situation: through the internet and cell phones, most of these “aliens” are in close contact with friends and family and businesses back home. Just in the past year, I’ve talked to kids who not only are in close communication with relatives in far-away places, but they themselves have traveled to Cambodia, Vietnam, Korea, Japan, Mexico, Iran, and the Philippines–and several families have gone to each of those countries. There are surely more–this is a short list from kids who take the time to chat with me in the library or on the playground.
We like to speak our mind in this country, but the terrible attack in Paris this past week reminds us that terrorists seem to have troublingly long memories and very little sense of humor. What we say “can and will be used against us” and can be heard around the world. A better path for us all to remember is perhaps found in the Bible: “Do not oppress the resident alien, because you were aliens in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 23:9), and “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 19:19).
Regarding the upcoming re-do on the school bond, there may still be legitimate reasons to vote one way or the other–I just hope and pray that the race or ethnicity or religious background of some of our students isn’t the reason why some people will vote ‘no.’