This week I planned to share a story with you titled “A Pig Walking with a Cane.” It is a softball story about a young boy… wait a minute. You will just have to wait until later to hear this story. I want to share something different.
“Don’t do it,” my trusty friend and adviser said when asked to comment on the topic. “People will say you are preaching to them.”
I’m gonna do it anyway. You are getting a hard ball from me this week. If it doesn’t work, I can always revert to my pig story.
I placed guidelines on topics of religion, politics, and race. This week, I want to share something that is on my mind. So, humor me while I unload.
My favorite song of all time is Louis Armstrong’s version of What a Wonderful World.
I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom, for me and you
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world.
Man, I love that song! I’ve instructed my wife to play it at my funeral.
In my mind, I can make my world as beautiful as I want. I do this by choosing happiness. I strive to see the best in people. I love turning frowns upside down.
But… I was born in a beautiful world as opposed to an ugly one. No, my parents did not have much money. And yes, I have overcome obstacles in my life. I graduated summa cum laude from the school of hard knocks.
But… mom and dad raised me with a roof over my head. I had at least three solid meals a day. These meals had a special ingredient in each bite called love. My mom and dad required me to work. They were constant coaches, encouragers, and providers. Church was not an option. Thank goodness I had these things because I still made terrible decisions that only God above helped me undo.
What if I was born in an ugly world? One with no roof over my head. A world where, gulp, I did not know if or when I would get my next meal? What if my mom was a drug addict, and I was born a drug baby? What if Dad was an alcoholic; beat my mom and left us on the street to fend for ourselves? No church. No words of encouragement, just constant ugliness.
What if… it was possible. I mean, what did I do to deserve to be born in a beautiful world? Nothing! Not one thing!
For the first forty years after college, my viewpoint was a beautiful world. Yes, I witnessed some crime. Yes, I saw some hardship here or there. But mostly, my world was beautiful.
Over the last five years, my job has revealed an ugly world.
Let me introduce you to the Harris family. The details don’t matter, but they lived over a year in a van, raising four kids.
Or how about a lady, let’s call her Violet, whose husband beat and kicked her and her daughter out of the house? A wonderful friend gave Violet a car. She scraped enough money to move into an apartment. One day leaving work, an inattentive driver t-boned her. Violet had no money for insurance, so now she not only did not own a car, but seeing a doctor was out of the question. She lost her apartment. She and her daughter had to move to a homeless shelter.
I could go on and on about others, whose world is not so beautiful.
This brings me to the elephant in the room; immigration.
What if I was born in an oppressive country? One where I was willing to work, but there were no jobs. What if soldiers raped my wife? Or there was a constant threat of my kids being kidnapped and sold in the sex trade?
There ain’t no wall tall enough, ain’t no river wide enough, ain’t no valley low enough… to keep me from taking my family to a better place. And if that better place was the United States, me and my family would be there, legally, or not. I would find a way. Nobody would stop me. Nobody!
Look, our immigration system is broken. We must fix it. But in my world, I experience far more great, hard-working, and wonderfully talented immigrants than I do thugs.
Over the years, I have had neighbors and coworkers who were not born in the United States. They made great neighbors. They worked hard. While they had pride in the country where they were born, they had just as much pride in their new country. Becoming familiar with them, I found a common denominator that exists in all people; family, friends, food, religion, and respect.
I have had the pleasure of working with and for thousands of wonderful, hardworking, and talented people. Two of the absolute best at what they did were from Iran. I hesitate to continue naming countries for fear of omitting one. Let’s just say this. I have worked with and for as many good immigrants as I have people from New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, or Dallas.
My church is thriving. I hear of other churches struggling for several reasons which I will not bring up here. But one reason we are growing is because of the many faithful members we have from other countries.
For example, I have become acquaintances with a beautiful couple from Korea. She works as an operating room nurse; He works as a graphic design artist. She is as nerdy looking as me. He has neat man bun hair and always looks as if he just walked out of a GQ magazine. Their marriage is still going strong after 35 years. They are at church every Sunday. I love seeing their smiling faces. She loves to talk. And talk. And talk!
Another gentleman is from Panama. He’s a big guy like me and he stands out in the crowd. Not only does he attend church every Sunday, he attends two services. He volunteers in the media ministry in the first service and then attends the second, so he can concentrate on hearing the sermon. He is always by himself because his wife volunteers in the nursery.
And the list goes on and on. I look forward to seeing them, their kids and their beautiful smiling and friendly faces each Sunday.
I know there are some bad immigrants. I get it. But there are some bad non-immigrants also. There always have been and there always will be. Shutting the door of our beautiful nation to these beautiful people is not the answer. I’m not smart enough to know the answer. But beautiful parents raised me to share my beautiful world. To never shut the door on anyone. Ever.
In my world, I see beautiful, talented, and hard-working immigrants who simply want a better life for themselves and their families. Who can fault them for that? They want respect. They want me to like their food, which is usually not a problem (unless it is sushi-yuk). They want to worship with me. They inspire me. They want to be my friend. A wonderful and wise person once told me one can never have enough of these.
Yes, I think to myself, what a wonderful world. Oh yeah!