My DD214

Veterans should be a thing of the past.

Empathy Good – Generalizations Bad

It has been brought to my attention that there is an employee at my restaraunt that is:

  1. An illegal immigrant from Mexico.
  2. Over 60 years of age.
  3. Has two full-time jobs.
  4. A former employee of 25 years for General Electric.

Yesterday at my job I was working in the carry-out window. The carry-out window can be very boring if there’s not alot of people who want to pay our prices but don’t want sit inside the restaraunt – so I usually do homework when I’m there.

Well, yesterday, one of our bussers (we’ll call him Juan) came to the window to say hi and see what I was up to. He saw my Physics book and gave me some praise for being in school. I told him that I was studying to be and Electrical Engineer and his eyes lit up and he started telling me about his job as an engineer with General Electric some years ago. It was a real eye-opening conversation. I mean, I’ve always had respect for them, but to learn that he was and engineer who helped design and build washing and drying machines astounded me! How could it be that a skilled worker like Juan illegally immigrated to this country? I thought that there was high demand in Mexico for skilled laborers.

I guess the demand for unskilled laborers in this country is greater.

I titled this entry “Empathy Good – Generalization Bad” because I think these are the two intellectual tools that get misused most often when dealing with Latin-American immigrants. Most often I think American who, by and large, are NOT bilingual, tend to generalize when dealing with Mexican immigrants. We all know the generalizations – they work for peanuts, or they are involved in crime, or they don’t speak english, or they’re stupid. This is dangerous, ignorant and, largely, untrue.

Its dangerous because these people are here to stay. We need to treat our neighbors like neighbors. These people contribute to our society and yet we classify them as a nuisance or as unwanted invaders. I think we have had enough problems in this country between races/ethnicities/nationalities. I think the Age of Intolerance needs to cease.

Its ignorant because not all of them are illiterate, criminals, monolingual, lazy…I think that half of the problem is not that Latin-Americans are unwilling to learn English, and its not that Americans are unwilling to learn Spanish, its because no one has the time! Who’s got time to learn another language? I, personally, have wanted to learn every language I’ve come into contact with – especially Spanish. But I can barely find time to file my fingernails, much less take another class and read about verb conjugation. The same can be said for many immigrants. The one promise we can make with eachother is that we will teach thier children and they will send thier children to school. Polish immigrants from the early 1900’s didn’t learn to speak english fluently within their lifetimes, it was their children who mastered the language. It will be the same with our Latin-American neighbors.

The communication gap is freaky. When you see a Mexican immigrant walking along a sidewalk, you’d probably love you ask him some questions about his situation or thoughts on family, religion, politics, etc. The amazing part is that he probably would love to ask you about those same things. When we can’t communicate with eachother, we should resist our first reaction to resent, hate, discriminate, fear…

Remember what Master Yoda says “Fear leads to hate, and hate leads to the Dark Side”.

18 September, 2006 12:11 PM - Posted by | Just a thought..

1 Comment »

  1. Unskilled labor in this country is at a great demand because no one wants to get paid next to nothing because the American dream is to have everything. In the same subject, however, skilled labor is being sent overseas because companies don’t want to pay a lot of money: bottom line–companies want to reduce wages all around to make more profits. Both ends get hurt.

    I don’t really disagree with anything you said, BUT: the nuisance factor depends on where you live. If you live in Minnesota, what is your hispanic population? Here in southern california, I am a minority. Things turn around pretty quickly, and you see the hispanic population not respecting others around here.

    Here is my main theory on why the government will never do anything about illegal immigration: civil liberties. Every day, our civil liberties are stripped. To immigrants, it’s still better than where they came from originally, so they notice nothing different.

    BTW, you should read the book “United States of Europe”–it’s pretty great.

    Comment by Jason | 18 September, 2006 11:39 PM | Reply

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