Monday, December 04, 2006


After Morning Offering, Jim and I packed up and set out for Lexington, Nebraska, where Jim’s Mom is celebrating her 89th birthday. We had an easy ride on good roads once we got off of I-70, which was still iced in places and festooned with a gaudy series of tumped-over and listing rigs which had not seen that ice while changing lanes. We were endlessly alert! And Stanley Outback was surefooted with his all-wheel drive.

We arrived at Jim’s childhood home after dark. Mom had a feast ready for us and had baked her own birthday cake – she thought of it as baking a cake to welcome us – so we had a good birthday party. We offered the Gaia Meditation while Mom was snoozing in front of the TV and soon found ourselves snoozing as well, so we all decided to head for bed.

Mom sees to the rental of a hospital bed when I visit, and it will be wonderful to rest my aching shoulders on an incline again. Sleeping on a flat bed beats up my back, neck and shoulders because of arthritic changes which make it hard for my neck and shoulders to support my head. Perhaps it is the weight of my ego that makes my head so heavy!

The environment in Lexington is uncomfortable for Jim and me, although we both love his Mom with all our hearts. There’s no better person or better Mom in the whole wide world. But her house is hermetically sealed. No windows will open. Every door is kept locked. Her old bones need heat, so the temperature is around 78 to 80 degrees at all times.

And she is Latino-phobic, which is most unfortunate in a town that is now more Mexican than American. The Mexicans have come to Lexington to work in the meat packing plants and harvest and have stayed. They work for pitifully small wages, which is why the jobs go begging. They band together to rent homes where several families make do living in community so that they can all save a part of their salaries to send home to Mexico, where their relatives are dependent upon their adventurous kin for the bare necessities of life – rice, beans and flour. I have been in Mexico, in the country, and there is nothing for a person who wishes to earn a living. For that you need cities and factories, which they do not have. So they come here to find a better life. They take the jobs no one wants. They have an excellent work ethic. Most are good people, and good citizens.

Yet there is an unthinking, sharp anger in Mom as she says that if “they” want to be here, “they” should always speak English. I asked her if they ever demand to be waited on in Spanish and she said, no, when dealing with Americans they speak English.

I asked her why it would bother her that they speak Spanish among themselves. I pointed out that if we needed to go to French-speaking Canada to work, we would still speak English between ourselves.

I pointed out that in a generation, the problem will not exist, as the kids are being schooled in English-speaking schools and they will grow up speaking Nebraska-accented English if they arrive here young enough, regardless of living in Spanish at home. I pointed out how interesting it would be, and how practical and compassionate as well, to learn Spanish and thusly find ways to bring the community \together again in its new configuration, Lexingtonians all and proud of it.

Mom – and the vast majority of European-Americans around these parts – is unimpressed by my sweet reason. They want their little insulated village back, with everyone the same. They have no desire to progress.

By heaven, what a waste of an opportunity to come together and have a whole new city with exciting cultural richness and diversity. I begin to see why, instead of our government’s conferring with the governance of Mexico and arranging for a no-borders work environment, which is the sensible thing to do since that is what actually exists, the money and energy is put on building a doggone fence and saying, you can’t play in our yard.

In Louisville, we have a large Hispanic community as well as large Asian, Middle Eastern and African communities of people. Fortunately for Jim and me, it is a much larger city, with universities and a more sophisticated attitude. We have found ways in Louisville to include everybody, having celebrations for Cinco de Mayo and many other international holidays dear to other cultures. I know inclusion can work, and I know it is the way of the open heart.

My own people prove the value of inclusivity. On my Mom’s side, my people have been in the USA since before it was a country. The Native Americans were for the most part inclusive in welcoming the early settlers here.

However on my Dad’s side, his people emigrated from northern Germany at a time when the politics leading up to World War I disturbed Pop’s grandfather. He sought a more liberal and less politically aggressive home and found it in Illinois. He never learned more than the necessary English. Pop’s Dad spoke both German and English and had a slight accent. Dad himself spoke clear and unaccented English but could speak German. He never taught me German or spoke it at all, which I consider my loss.

My Dad’s people were professionals in Germany – financiers, poets, professors and mathematicians. Of course, in the USA, the family’s ability to find professional positions was limited. But by my Dad’s day, he was able to attend college, become a professional engineer and make a good living for his family.

In the meantime, America was richer for my folks’ contributions. And now in Nebraska and all over this country, we have the chance to embrace our newest flood of immigrants. Why do we not? Why can we not remember that we too were once immigrants here?

I hope I remember to ask the Q’uo about the spiritual principles involved in the apparently very human tendency to exclude people who are different. It really tends to distract people from seeing the good of moving forward in progressive ways that embrace what is happening now and seeing that American Dream come alive in a whole new population of good people.