Sunday afternoon, River Park, Chicago
My daughter is meeting some classmates at the park, and the waterpark that is attached to it, for a mid-summer’s playdate. The kids are edging their way toward middle school, and so that term won’t be acceptable to them someday soon. But for now it’s still all right to call it that.
As I was leaving the event, and walking back to my car, I saw a scene that would probably frighten some people, and anger some others. Grown men were playing a spirited game of soccer (although they thought of it as futbol, I’m sure). Families were enjoying the warm summer weather by barbecuing and picknicking. The sounds of traditional dance music filled the air. If I closed my eyes, I might feel as if I had been transported to someplace south of the border. But here I was, smack dab in the middle of the good old U.S. of A.
It occurred to me that there was something distinctly American about that scene. These were people who had probably left their old homeland, in search of something better. They came to America, just like my ancestors did, and your ancestors did, too. And now they do the lousy work, and suffer the disapproval of the more established folks who don’t appreciate that “those people” have come to take away jobs and get free things and ruin the “better” America that somehow existed before all of the new people arrived.
Go back to the 20th century, or the 19th, or even the 18th, and you would see the same thing. But America has somehow survived every new wave of immigrants. This is because no group of people is powerful enough to bring America down. And, at the same time, America takes what each new group has to offer–their food, their language, their social customs–and adopts it, in some form or fashion. That’s how America survives and grows.
There are millions of people who are here now, whether everyone else likes it or not. Who’s going to sort through their various levels of legality? The federal government? Not at a time when funds are being slashed, and smaller government seems to be the preferred state of things for some people. So you want to shrink the government, unless it rids the country of people who speak a different language or had a different upbringing than you did? Sorry, but that seems like a load of caca to me.
Those who would just as soon send these people away like to consider themselves as “real” Americans. But, in truth, they’re oblivious to what America always has been, and what it always will be, too. Rather than viewing the scene in River Park–and countless other parks all over this country–as a danger to America, let’s take it as an affirmation that America is still just what our ancestors expected it to be. I think they’d all be proud of us if we did.