Roger Marolt: Praying for oppression and re-writing a heroic family history
“Dear Lord, help us seal our borders. There is a good yet unknown reason you gave us this great abundance; who are we to argue? We can only humbly accept it for our exclusive comfort and enjoyment, as you intended. We promise to be good, if you don’t take any of it away. Deal?
“Help us build a great wall to keep others out and then make them pay for it. If you wanted us to spend our own money on this now, you would have just let them keep California and Texas to begin with. Thank you for granting us the wisdom to understand that some of them are probably good people, but why take a chance? Thank you for the awesome military and economic might to enforce your will.
“We forgive all undocumented Mexicans who cross the border and all the refugees fleeing here in fear and making their problems ours. Our hearts ache when we send them packing back to where you want them.”
I assume some people pray this way. I mean, if you demand these things from politicians, why wouldn’t you ask God to join the task force?
I don’t think it was too difficult for my great grandfather to become an American in 1890. There must have been sea sickness and lousy food on the way over, but I bet it was easier to pass through Ellis Island and become an official citizen of the United States than it was for me to get through airport security on my way to Sacramento last week.
It feels good to claim my great grandfather earned his way into the country, and me, too, by attribution, but I think all he really did was show up. I am not making fun. I am only pointing out that he did what he had to do to join the club back when the initiation fee was reasonable.
I am proud of my relatives who fought for our country. They were brave and did their duty. But they didn’t really have a choice, either. I think I was the only one in our clan to serve voluntarily. I wanted to fly jets for the Navy, but after six months we didn’t see eye-to-eye, so to speak, and it was peacetime so they honorably discharged me to eight years of active reserve during which time nothing was required of me.
Either way, it’s obvious that our relatives didn’t do what they did only to preserve domestic welfare. When they said they fought to keep the world free and safe, evidence backs them up. Our soldiers have saved far more foreign lives than American ones. Now all we have to do to save others is open our gates to refugees and hungry neighbors without firing a shot, but we won’t. U.S. soldiers risked their lives for freedom, and we won’t even risk difficulty understanding the cashier at McDonalds.
As soon as I decide that you’ve had enough of me and this weekly column, I plan to retire and rewrite my own history. It will begin with my great, great grandfather raising his family in an impoverished country ostensibly governed by an incurably corrupt government but whose power actually rests in the barrels of semi-automatic weapons aimed helter-skelter across the land by warring drug gangs.
In this tale, my great, great grandfather will seek a better life for his family, setting off across a blistering desert to find a land of opportunity. After weeks of hunger, mortal risk and suffering, he reaches the border and is met by young family men from this new country. He assumes their sympathy. They see him as an enemy even though he is only doing what they would do if they were in his position. They pummel him, throw him in the back of a pick-up, and head for the jail. He escapes and lives the rest of his life as a criminal for pursuing the family man’s most noble goal.
For generations my family lives a meager life in the shadows of the new land, subjects of discrimination, scorn and hatred, contributing far more through menial labor than they will ever get back, but it is still better than the alternative.
Many years later I arrive. A stray particle lodged in the filter of the gene pool breaks loose and against the odds I am born with light skin. Having never spoken another language, my English is country-boy good. Nobody suspects my heritage is different from their own. I have finally been granted man’s permission to share in the abundance of God’s gifts.
Roger Marolt believes that, if our laws discourage sharing, then our laws need to be changed. firstname.lastname@example.org
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