Posted on 2 Comments

The Sad Colossus

An unprecedented number of undocumented Indian immigrants are crossing U.S. borders on foot, according to new data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection. What has been a years-long increase in migration has now developed into a dramatic spike.

From October 2022 to this September, the 2023 fiscal year, there were 96,917 Indians encountered — apprehended, expelled or denied entry — having entered the U.S. without papers. It marks a fivefold increase from the same period from 2019 to 2020, when there were just 19,883.

What’s behind the rise in undocumented Indian immigrants crossing U.S. borders on foot, NBC News, November 14, 2023

Maybe it’s my First World (Are we still allowed to show regard for numbered worlds? Correct me if I’m wrong, but First World used to identify the United States and countries aligned with it, Second World identified the Soviet Union and countries aligned with it, and Third World identified countries not aligned with either the United States and the USSR. Of course, with the demise of the USSR, there was a Second World no more, and with ideological alignment no longer a factor as it once was, the Third World came to be a term that referred to non-industrialized, poverty-stricken countries; consequently, First World came to refer to the opposite. So… I guess writing it out like that has helped me to answer my own question: In this stressful day and age where sensibilities are quite frayed and sensitive, I would have to say the answer is… I guess the answer depends on the audience. I guess some would say hell no numbered worlds can no longer be regarded, you unwoke ogre! And I guess others would say hell yes they can, you fragile little snowflake! Anyway… call me what you will, be it an unwoke ogre or a fragile snowflake, just don’t call me late to dinner.) privilege, or just plain ignorance of the global plight of others (I haven’t been to a so-called Third World country since the Nineties), but it amazes me that so many people from around the world are still risking their lives to immigrate to these less than United States…

With all its division and dysfunction…

With all its mass killings and all the other forms of unimaginable violence that one could imagine…

With all its rascist, homophobic, anti-intellect trumper cultists frothing at the mouth to turn it into their narcissistic megolomaniacal cult leader’s autocratic utopia of hateful sweeping raids, giant camps and mass deportations.

I mean, how bad must it be in a country for someone to risk their and their family’s lives to emigrate from it by any means necessary to live in another country where more and more each day everyone’s life who lives here, be they here naturally born, naturalized, documented, undocumented, is at risk just by living here.

It seems no where is safe from the hate and violence.

Sheesh, just look at today’s news with the threat of violence in the Senate and an actual physical altercation in the House…

I mean, W.T.F., over.

I use to be proud of how many all over the globe wanted to come to this country to pursue the American Dream…

Americans by choice, not by chance…

Now I’m only saddened by it.

THE NEW COLOSSUS

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

- Emma Lazarus

#icomplainbecauseicare
#godblessamerica
#andeverywhereelse

Posted on 6 Comments

A Privilege to be Apart

I wonder if there could be scientific research done that could come up with a way to measure how much privilege an individual possesses and then create a scale that tells us that this amount of privilege will lead to this amount of life.

Presuming that more privilege equals more life.

And visa versa, I suppose.

By all accounts I should be dead: leukemia in 2009, a year later a lung disease as a result of the bone marrow transplant and of which was to knock me off within five years, heart failure in 2014 as a result of my prophylactic chemo pills, forever more a decimated immune system as a result of all the above, and most recently this summer, also as a result of all the above, pneumonia, of which my oncologist said if I ever contracted it would be game over.

But the game continues…

I guess I’m kind of like a cockroach that there ain’t no gettin’ rid of.

Who knows for sure why I’m still here.

But my guess is that my off the chart privilege score has a heck of a lot to do with it.

Some of the points you can add up by site: white, male, tall, all my limbs and digits intact.

Some points can only be determined by knowing a bit about me.

For instance, by knowing that my ultimate privilege has to be that there never has been a moment in my life that I have not felt loved. That’s got to be worth beaucoup points, oui?

Or that there has never been a moment in my life that I have been without good health insurance.

Good medical coverage + lotsa love as medicine = one long-living cockroach.

And another big privilege of mine is that for the most part I could walk into just about any room of my choosing and feel accepted, or at least unthreatened.

Even without understanding that the ability to do something like that is a privilege, it’s gotta be good for one’s well-being, no?

Yeah…

But it goes the other way, too.

I’ve also had the privilege of self-induced estrangement without having to worried about being labeled as strange… or as a threat.

I used to love being in a foreign country, especially in Asia where I look completely different from most, and riding a bus or a train by myself and not understanding a single word being said around me. Everything just hummed in the background and I could be surrounded by masses of people crammed into the subway car with me and yet be completely apart from them… at peace, without fear.

It was almost spiritual.

A privileged feeling like that’s gotta be worth a few points.

I wonder how many of those from other parts of the world coming to my country today, the less than United States, can ride alone in a crowded subway car not understanding what’s being said around them and feel at peace and without fear.

There is a beautiful piece in the New York Times by Elisa Gonzalez titled How Alienation Became My Superpower…

In 2016, I moved to Poland to study and write poetry on a Fulbright arts fellowship. Doing so required stripping myself of fluency and the cloak of native understanding. With each failure of action or speech, I squelched around in touristic self-pity. “I live on Smutna Street,” I told someone, momentarily forgetting “Smolna” was my street’s actual name; her laughter reminded me that smutna means “sad.” I was often sad during that first, dark autumn, dealing with a disintegrating marriage and the parched loneliness of the unlanguaged.

Fortunately, later in the piece we learn that Ms. Gonzalez was eventually able to find peace with her alienation.

But I don’t suppose everyone who feels alienated and alone because they look different, or speak different, or love different, can find such peace.

But I wish they could.

My work in progress is a story about alienation and estrangement. The main character, white, male, old, kind of like yours truly, gets so fed up with the state of humanity that he decides to no longer identify as a human and disassociates himself completely from society.

But instead of becoming estranged from humanity, he, or it as it prefers to be referred to, creates a kind of a cult around itself in the process.

Go figure.

Privilege is a powerful thing and its worth can never be accurately tallied I suppose.

But we know, or at least I do, that it is so powerful it can fulfill and extend lives.

Now that’s not just power, that is a true superpower…

One that, unfortunately, not everyone has the privilege to enjoy.

Posted on 2 Comments

Two Learnings from My Recent Rememborizing Efforts: One cool; One cautionary

As I discussed in my last post, I’ve embarked on an effort to memorize stuff that interests me. I’m finding that the more I memorize stuff, the easier is to memorize and retain new stuff.

So as I just finished up memorizing the poem Invictus, I decided to go large and take on the grandest, and perhaps greatest, of all letters penned on behalf of these United States, The Declaration of Independence.

Yeah, maybe I am getting a little cocky/in over my head taking on such a significant body of work — significant as in packed with meaning, and, especially, significant as in packed with a lot of words. One-thousand, four-hundred and fifty-eight of them to be exact.

Continue reading Two Learnings from My Recent Rememborizing Efforts: One cool; One cautionary