Monday, June 26, 2006

On Immigration

See, this blog was started to keep me from stomping around the kitchen and yelling, especially in the summer when I am often home alone with my sister (fourteen years old) who only looks up from her computer and says “You are talking to yourself and I think you should stop it.” Except what with the routine I’ve fallen into with the work on my book, I’ve been finding it difficult to change modes and fly into a rant.

Ah, but then I read the paper over breakfast. And every so often, I read about someone who makes me jump up from the table, brandish my orange juice glass at the newspaper, and yell, “I have to share an island with him?”

“Sister, you are yelling!” No one understands why she calls me Sister.

“I know I’m yelling, Bird! I’m yelling because people are mean to each other!”

“Well, you need to stop it! I am playing a game!”

“You play your game, I’ll yell at the newspaper.”

“Stop yelling at the newspaper, Sister!”

So I took her advice. Hi, blog-world.

So this guy claims he’s doing this out of compassion. Compassion for the people he’s having kicked out of the home they’ve lived in for seven years, who now have to find a new home where they can find care for their disabled daughter (as I type the world “disabled,” my sister yowls, “Sister, are you using your computer?” Yes, I am, Little Miss Psychic). Compassion, for the “multiple immigrant families” he imagines to be living in the house he glares at through the windows of his S.U.V. (ooooh, don’t get me started on the S.U.V.), where it turns out one perfectly legal family with several children live and play. Hispanic children. But he’s not racist. No one is ever racist.

But what really got me about this article was the following:

Carolyn Gilbert, a retired secretary who advocates an electrified fence at the Mexican border, said he had no conscience. "People forget the human dimension," she said.

The article artfully exposed Mr. Nicolosi’s hypocrisy, but that line gave me pause. Ms Gilbert sees herself as a friend to Mr. Nicolosi’s victims, yet her solution isn’t much more compassionate than his. Which reminds me of a poem by Taylor Mali (from his book, What Learning Leaves):

The Problem

You’re the this that somebody ought to do something about

--Jeffrey McDaniel

The guy in front of me trying to get on the subway

who is blocking my way onto the subway

is not the problem.

He’s my problem,

but even I am not so self-centered as to think that my problem

is THE problem.

Besides, he’s trying to do what I’m trying to do:

get on the subway.

I recognize him as my brother in transit.

No, he’s not the problem.

Nor is the woman in front of him,

nor even the people in front of her.

None of us is the problem,

we few, we happy few,

we band of transit brothers.

But there’s this guy inside the subway

with nothing but empty space to his left.

You know who he is? He’s the problem.

I wish he would look my way and say

“What’s your problem?” so I could say

“Don’t you mean, who?”

All he would need to do is step aside

and we could all get on.

But does he realize this? Noooo.

Does he know he’s the problem? Noooo.

Do problems ever realize that they’re the problems?

That’s why they’re problems.

Which makes me think,

am I anybody’s problem?

Am I keeping anyone from getting somewhere?

Not out of calculatedly malicious intent

but unwittingly lazy complacency.

If I knew where to look, would I see someone pointing at me

angrily trying to get me to do something

that might not occur to me otherwise?

New life resolution:

try to be aware of the problem.

If you don’t know what it is, it’s probably you.

So step aside.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

On Morning Minyan

I love shacharit. I didn't realize this before, because my life has for several years been full of bad shacharit experiences. But there's no reason for that. The world is full of good shacharit experiences, if you're willing to go out and look for them (at 6:30 in the morning). It's not like the NSJC morning minyan is so brilliant or full of kavana or anything, but at least it's a minyan, and not only a minyan but one that includes me, and that puts it above anything I've been part of since...USY Encampment? And it's reminding me why I started putting on tefilin in the first place. Standing in a room with a handful of men and women all getting up at the crack of dawn to come together and wrap leather thongs around their heads and arms is some experience, let me tell you.

I got to feel extra-old today, though. When I was twelve and thirteen (or thirteen and fourteen?) I volunteered with the preschool camp at NSJC. Today, a girl who was in one of those classes had her first aliyah as a bat mitzvah (and brought bagels--yay). The party's next week; my sister is invited. I hope the kippot are a color I don't already have--my collection is too full of repeats!