It’s been a hard day
So…I had to take a hard look at myself today. I’m at the world wide sales kick off for my company, 7000 people from 50 different countries all in one room, and when thousands of sales people get together, you can be sure of two things: there will be drinking, and someone will say something stupid. Today, the stupid person was me.
The kicker is I said something I still believe is true. A few of us were just yammering about some business-y type thing when one guy said how much he appreciated our CEO for writing a company wide memo denouncing The Donald’s immigration executive order. Now, I work at an incredible company, but conservative it ain’t. I know this. I should have kept my mouth clamped tight, but instead I said, “it may not have been the right thing, but at least it was something.” What followed was a not entirely inept commentary about how we need to take care of our citizens and their protection, and not feel obligated to continue to defend the rights of people who hate us. (But I said it WAY more eloquently than that.) Some of you may now want to stop reading, as you imagine what follows is another nationalist “Make America Great Again” screed. Please bear with me a bit longer.
Here’s the thing. The guy I was talking to – unbeknownst to me – is married to an Iranian immigrant. After the Shah fell in 79′ and the Islamic revolution took hold, her family moved here. She was 6 years old. She and the rest of her family gained citizenship, and have helped most of their family move here with the exception of her Uncle – a highly regarded surgeon – because America does not honor his Iranian medical degree. He would have to go back to med school to practice here…after 30 years of experience… so he stayed, but visits his family here often.
Clearly, my friend has a different view of the situation than I, but he let me have my little fit. Only after my foot was all the way down my throat did he provide me the context I just shared above. He didn’t get mad though. He didn’t say I was racist or a Muslim hater or any of the other labels progressives love to bury people with who don’t agree with them. He actually thanked me for sharing with him. Then he told me how the law affects him and his family. How the fear is that his wife may not get to see her uncle again any time soon. That her grandparents fear going to visit him because they might not be let back in the country.
Normally, when I interact with ‘progressives’ (a term I hate) it involves them waxing on about freedom of expression and inclusivity and equality, followed by an expletive laden tirade sprinkled with random excerpts explaining all the ways I am a terrible human being for thinking differently than them. Not so this one…and for the first time in a long time, a genuinely open dialogue with a smart person with a different view got me thinking…and by thinking, I mean ‘couldn’t sleep because I couldn’t stop’ thinking.
When did I decide protecting “us” was more important than protecting “them”? When did I start deciding whose life was most important? That unborn strangers ARE worth fighting for, but living strangers are not? That victims of sex trafficking are worth dedicating ones life to help (my wife works for a non-profit that does just that), yet the victims of ethnic purging need to fend for themselves because it happens somewhere else? When did I decide that the value in protecting others and showing compassion lies in the recipiants ability, or even desire, to thank me for it? When did I become this guy? I don’t remember, because all the little decisions seemed so right and rational at the time, but the part of me that gloried in someone finally putting “America First” and “Protecting our borders” is a guy I realize I don’t really like that much.
Don’t get me wrong here. I don’t agree with…well…basically anything in the progressive agenda. Not because all they want is necessarily bad, but because we have to become fiscally responsible. We have to secure our borders and protect our people. We have to fight terrrorism wherever it hides…I’m not saying any of the thoughts I had were fundamentally wrong. But maybe instead of saying we should be helping veterans (or homeless, or whoever) instead of refugees, we should be working out ways to help both. And maybe marginally sacrificing my own security to dramatically improve someone elses is a sacrifice worth making. Maybe a little less money for me – who has so much – is worth it if it results in getting something to those who have nothing. Maybe the best way to show the love of Christ is to love people where they are, and not just where I want them to be.
I’ve read my Bible from cover to cover, and I believe it’s words are true. Therefore I am confident that I’m told to “love my neighbor as myself”…not “love my neighbor if he looks like me, talks like me, and thinks like me…otherwise, screw that guy.” “Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you” looks nothing like “do unto others before they have a chance to do unto you”…which I’m pretty sure is a bumper sticker I’ve seen.
To my progressive friends out there…you will win no converts by beating every dissenting voice with your club of tolerance. All you do is destroy the chance to win others to your cause. You pride yourselves on your desire to accept those who think differently, while berating a sizable portion of the population for doing just that. But if you shelve your outrage for a few minutes and engage rather than berate, you might be surprised at how your response improves. I was.
To my conservative friends out there…we are wrong on this one. We are. I get that fear is driving a lot of decisions right now. We are afraid and that is something Americans are NOT used to feeling – and we are sick of it. We are also sick of being told we are racist because we want to feel safe. But as horrible as the twin towers falling was, that was a few hours of one day. Imagine living that type of horror every second of every day. Congratulations, you still have no idea what it’s like to live in Syria. If us feeling slightly less safe allows a whole lot of people to not be raped and murdered…doesn’t that seem like a good trade?
Maybe some terrorists will get in because of our act of compassion. In fact, no matter what we do, some will. Maybe there will be more violence. When that happens, me and my 2nd amendment will stand up to protect both the people who support that right, as well as the people who don’t. Because that is what America IS. We defend the right of free speech for those who use it to tell us to shut up. We defend the right of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for those who pursue it in ways we may find objectionable.
We are a melting pot people. THE melting pot. That’s what makes America Great. It doesn’t need to be great AGAIN. We just need to remember what made us great in the first place.