To the Editor: Dumb luck 



To the Editor: 

There are multiple, deadly serious and troubling issues before Americans today. American attitude towards immigration and immigrants is one such issue. Currently, those attitudes seem to suggest that the presence of “us” – those already in the United States and having citizenship – makes us somehow superior to others. We seem to believe that we are somehow better, and more worthy, human beings than those currently seeking immigration. Citizenship, though, as precious as it is, only makes us legal, not “superior.”  

Perhaps we have always been fearful of immigrants, though immigrants are exactly what our forebears once were. The belief that immigrants are unwelcome and “lesser” is certainly contrary to the promise of the Statue of Liberty. 

Centuries ago, there were individuals who arrived in this country who were fleeing persecution, others were ordered to immigrate in order to retire legal debt via servitude, and still others sought new lives and/or riches. More often than not, many of those folks – enslaved and indentured peoples excepted – made deliberate, considered and scary decisions to be here.  

Moving to another country, learning a new language, adopting (to a fairly significant degreenew and/or different cultural norms, perhaps leaving behind parents, siblings and relatives are all part of a hugely difficult, complex and emotional decision. 

However, all descendants of those initial generations and of any firstgeneration immigrant since are here simply by luck; no thinkingjust luck. Most of us have rarelyif evergiven any substantive thought as to why we are here or as to why we remain here. We have not had to make any of the hard choices that many of our antecedents faced. Most of us currently hereeven those belonging to such supposedly august organizations as the Daughters of the American Revolution have simply won the lottery: dumb luck. 

Yet many Americans now seem to feel that our dumb luck in being in the United States entitles them to be dismissive and scornful of immigrants and of their hopes and dreams, when what those of us who are citizens really ought to feel is fortunateGrateful works, too. It is questionable that we who are citizens by dumb luck could even actually pass the citizenship test required of immigrants. 

Perhaps worse, my own increasing suspicion is that those of us who are here simply by luck take the United States far too much for granted and are far too blasé about our form of government, about the country, about its resources (natural and otherwise), about its economic systems and about its resiliency. Just one current example: there appear to be millions of Americans who seem only to support democracy provided that it benefits them, and only them. Such belief teeters on the edge of oligarchy and, yes, fascism. That is not what democracy is all about. I would suggest that the United States has long prospered exactly because that is not what democracy is all about. 

Lewis Redding 

Bar Harbor 

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