Over the past week, I've engaged in serious conversations (either in-person or on blogs) about three different controversial issues: gun control, homosexuality (and the church), and immigration. While the subject of the conversations was wildly different, the content of the conversations was eerily similar. Controversial issues bring out the worst in people, but more than that, they bring out people's thinly-veiled fears. Everyone wants to hunker down and barricade themselves in by spouting "facts" that are, in reality, widely-spread and often-inaccurate myths. All of the arguing tends toward two extremes: 1)Ideology detached from the human experience, which thus becomes dehumanizing rhetoric, or 2)Extreme emotionality bound so tightly to individual experience that it cannot look or dialogue beyond itself.
Today, I find myself doing much thinking and reading about immigration. I've become an avid New York Times reader online, and all it takes is one article about immigration before I've read six articles about immigration. I find it dangerous that when you read one piece, the website offers you a list of other related pieces...I just keep reading and reading. The commenters on all of these articles follow the pattern I illustrated above. The reasoned, middle-voices that attempt to engage the content are so often ignored, because for members of either extreme to enter into actual dialogue on the issue would mean that they would have to step outside of their black/white world and come to embrace the gray.
I'm passionate about the immigration issue, and believe that it is nothing but gray. I could spend time here sharing with you everything that I've learned over the past few years and what conclusions I've come to about the issue, but I think that a better starting place today would be to share with you the links to the stories and articles that re-sparked my engagement with this issue:
Obama to Push Immigration Bill as One Priority
Editorial: Immigration Reform and Hard Times
Immigrant Detainee Dies, and a Life is Buried, Too
The Room for Debate blog posts on Immigration
And, in case you were curious, I have contributed my thoughts to two of the ensuing comment conversations; here and here.