Things that make you go, ‘hmmm’….

I’ve seen a post on various feeds in the last year or so which recounts how ‘the Lord’ has taken one’s favourite actors and favourite singer. It then goes on to point out to the Lord that their favourite President is Barack Obama.

What gives?

The thing I find most troubling about this is that it comes from individuals who are largely devout Christians. I know that many of them are and have been against the presidency of Mr. Obama. And, they are perfectly entitled to hold that opinion. They are also entitled to criticise him and his presidency. But, wishing the death of the President (any president) through a prayer to the god they believe in seems to take things a bit too far, no?

Increasingly, discourse on the social, economic and ,especially, political spheres of life in the US has become so contentious that it is often impossible. Regardless of one’s viewpoints, individuals are apt to demonise and vilify those on opposite sides of their ideological spectrum to the point of not interacting with them at all. This seems so at odds with the principles of free speech and discourse upon which the US Constitution was framed.

As much as I firmly believe in the right of individuals to speak their mind and share their opinions, I do wonder if we have moved into a rhetoric of hatred which leads to things going too far. The recent tragedy in Norway serves as an all-too-real and painful example of how one’s words may influence another individual’s actions.

Perhaps it’s a bit too crunchy or New Age-y, but despite disagreeing vehemently with the policies of President Bush’s administration and some   members of the political right currently in office, I have never and would never wish for their death. I’d rather they be removed from public office, and I’ll exercise my right to vote to help get them out.

I can’t say that I wish ill on anyone who disagrees with me, regardless of if that disagreement is based on ideology or personality. I have my opinions and they have theirs. Full stop.

As much as we as Americans hold dear our right to speak our minds, I have to wonder if we as a society would benefit immensely if we tempered our rhetoric so that is it not filled with words of hatred, retribution, death, and despair, but one which looks for mutually agreed upon (or equally offensive) solutions. Just a thought…

‘No more boundaries; no more borders’…

The Two of Us

The two of us on holiday in December 2009.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about borders and passports and documents.

The words of the late, great ‘Doctor’ Remmy Ongala fill my thoughts and best express them—the idyllic and unrealistic image of a world without passports, border controls and immigration officials.

The Cuban and I live in a world which is very much predominated by worry and fear of the unthinkable. We live in a country which is not our own. And, we live in a world which is focused on pieces of paper and an unimaginable pile of documents and endless applications. We are dependent upon one another for those documents which allow us to not only live in a specific country, but to continue our life together. The hard truth and knowledge that at the whim of any one bureaucrat we may be forced to abandon that life together fills our hearts and minds with an unspeakable fear.

Our crime? Falling in love with an individual from a country which our respective governments consider personae non grata.

I recently read an article about the horror faced by couples in the US in which one partner is either detained awaiting deportation or has already been deported. That is, families—real, loving families—have been ripped apart because of the decisions of others with only the specifics on a bundle of paperwork to guide them. it is unfair, unjust and unconscionable, particularly in a society which prides itself on ‘family values’.

Much of the discussion surrounding immigration reform in the US removes the context and nuances faced by individual couples. This has certainly been our experience both within and beyond the borders of our own respective countries. Yet, those specific details are what make individual cases so incredibly real and rich. And, heartbreaking. Most decisions are based on an inventory of checked boxes. When neither box applies, decisions are taken with no thought or closer examination of the individuals affected. Rarely do the consequences of those decisions warrant much attention or reflection, and therein lies the tragedy.

As The Cuban and I move through the incredibly frustrating and murky bureaucratic maze in our attempt to continue our life together, we still hope for and dream of a world in which passports, borders and immigration officers retain a bit of human compassion. We all inhabit one world.