Times of unusual uncertainty
Highlands TodayTestifying before Congress on July 21, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke described our economic state as "unusually uncertain," perhaps the best description yet to portray the 21st century. As problems pile up, there is no dearth of suggested answers. There is, however, a shortage of common sense mixed with compassion.
Published: July 29, 2010
Published: July 29, 2010
Panera Bread Company seeks that combination. In May it opened its first non-profit restaurant in Clayton, Mo., in an area attracting the affluent and the needy. Customers see the suggested price of their meal but are on their honor as to what they donate. Everyone is anonymous in giving and receiving. Thus far, Panera's chairman, Ronald Shaich, says the plan is working better than expected, "living up to our best sense of humanity." June statistics showed 60 to 70 percent paying in full, 15 percent leaving a little more, 15 percent paying less or nothing, and a handful giving big donations.
The successful blending of common sense and compassion could solve our immigration crisis. Extremists run the gamut from those who would shoot illegals on sight and separate mothers from babies to those who want to open our borders with no strings attached. Many law abiding, tax paying, good citizens believe illegal immigrants endanger their safety and lifestyles. Can we find solutions without hardening our hearts?
In his 1982 book, "Between the Devil and the Dragon," Eric Hoffer wrote: "In the alchemy of man's soul almost all noble attributes - courage, honor, love, hope, faith, duty, loyalty, and so on - can be transmuted into ruthlessness." If we are not careful, we will lose our national soul in pursuit of security.
Have we forgotten the words engraved below the Statue of Liberty? "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore." Have we forgotten most of us came from those wretches?
Columnist Edward Schumacher-Matos informed us recently that 422 bodies of unauthorized migrants were found, mostly in the desert, last year. Forty bodies were collected in the Arizona desert in the first half of July 2010, then "stacked like boxes of fish in a refrigerated truck." It may be that more activists are ready to fight for the rights of fish than people. Arizona needs help, not a Washington lawsuit or racist protestors.
We need a non-partisan, common sense, compassionate plan for immigration, including, as Matos points out: "a pathway to legalization for the estimated 10.8 million unauthorized immigrants here." If we label all of them "terrorists" and seek to "send all of them back where they came from," we become terrorists ourselves. Truly dangerous terrorists often appear to be upstanding citizens. Still more danger was just revealed by a military probe exposing 20 military officials and defense contractors, some with top-level security clearances, neglecting their duties by purchasing and watching child porn.
Jesus lived in an "unusually uncertain" time, yet the gospels record that "seeing the multitudes, He felt compassion for them" (Matthew 9:36 NAS). His common-sense compassion always led to healing solutions. Will ours?
Finding truth requires the right starting point. That is the quest of this column. If you are a seeker of simple truth, we can find it together-side-by-side.
Linda M. Downing is a freelance writer. Contact her at lindadowning.com.