I was born in Portland, OR. and consider myself a "stalled resident". What that means is there are lots of unnecessary glass ceilings, walls and floors to crash through. I visualize America fulfilling it's potential. We will judge people based on their character instead of their ideology, religion, sexuality, race, etc. We will take care of people rather than throwing them away. We will take care of this planet. We will end our marriage to the illusory and elusive "American Dream". Let's replace the American Dream with the American Reality and make it available to everyone, equitably and ethically.
I was born in Sri Lanka and came to the United States at the age of 11. Now an adult, I find that I am an amalgam of both cultures; but not fitting in either culture completely. At time confusing, at tims a joy to have different perspectives on life. My family today lives the American Dream - sometimes forgotten by native born Americans.
I'm a little disappointed in Polo's statement that there 'is something wrong' with people who don't share his cultural sensitivity around cemetries in the instance of the Max line to the zoo. There are different cultural perspectives around death - some cultures won't mention the name of the deceased, others keep their skeletons on display in their homes, many Americans are not particularly 'sensitive' to the bodies of the dead, believing that the spirit is quite seperate. In encouraging people to be senstive to other peoples culture, it seems important to me that this sensitivity and respect is extended in both directions - mainstream and other.
Wow, thanks for your reflective response Polo. I understand better where you are coming from, and I agree that every generation of immigration (including my own) have a lot to contribute to the culture with new ideas and perspective.
I'm with you, Oregon1, regarding Polo's statement that there is something wrong with someone that would ride MAX under a cemetery. He lost his credibility with me at that time.
Out of one side of his mouth he asks for us to accept those that share different ideals; then out of the other side pronounces anyone who thinks differently than him on the MAX subject has something seriously wrong with them.
The word "assimilate" has done great damage to ethnically different people. It assumes that the individual will, in time, become "American" (the other "A" word as you pointed out). The question for those of us who are the sons and daughters of immigrants (I am Asian-American), especially racially different, is how much do you buy into it. If you assimilate, do you become a Christian, dress like Britney Spears, listen to hip-hop and pretend that you don't look or act differently. And if you do, do you leave your parents and grandparents behind because they're "old country" and speak with marked accents, if they speak English at all. And, if you are physically different, such as being "short" for Mexican or Asians, or "too dark," you find that your presence is a constant reminder to yourself and others that you aren't part of the majority society.
Our community in the Northwest (I include the areas of Vancouver to Salem) is more "tolerant" than other areas, but there is an unease that never goes away when we encounter racially different or ethnically different people. This goes both ways--racial minorities to whites and vice-versa. I wish it wasn't so, but that's the way it is for now.
I have great hope that Dr. King's dream of equality and Barak Obama's election moves us closer to seeing people rather than differences. I, for one, think we've moved a bit, but the sobering part is that Mr. Obama needed to separate himself from his Muslim heritage. But we are moving forward.
Thanks for having this conversation.
Your guest's assertion that "there is something wrong" with those who would tunnel under a graveyard strikes me as being overly anthropomorphic. The dead are not disturbed by bulldozers or any other mechanical device. They are dead.
Your guest perpetuates the myth that humans are "special" and deserving of some strange, sacred treatment, even as corpses withering underground. This is akin to the Egyptians mummifying their deceased leaders for their journey into the afterlife.
It is understandable that an individual might not wish his deceased ancestors to be shifted about by earth-moving equipment. However, it happens all the time. My own father, a World War II veteran has been "relocated" two times at the Fort Snelling Military Cemetery in St. Paul, Minnesota, due to overcrowding. His remains are now stacked up on top of two other sets of remains.
My father was not offended by this change of circumstances. He is dead, after all. Neither I, nor any of my siblings, were disturbed in anyway when we learned of my father's "change of address."
If there is anything sacred about the dead, it is the memory of them in the minds of those who survive. To imagine that the dead are entitled to everlasting quiet in their burial grounds strikes me as a rather silly conceit having more to do with the insecurities of the living than the imagined needs of those passed away.
You're correct that the dead are dead. But they are not equal to a tree or the rusted hulk of a car. They should be treated with respect as it helps us to remember who we are and where we came from. My great-grandfather is buried in a pauper's grave in Tacoma, but it is a place of dignity and we visit it to remind us of his personal sacrifice and honor his life. For those of us who come from a non-Christian background, we are amazed, if not offended, with the off-handed way remains are handled--especially those of ethnic communities. And who's to say that the Eqyptians weren't right?
Regarding "beliefs" about the disturbance of a graveyard:
This is not just about belief or cultural custom. This is about a cultural sensitivity to certain realities that has been filtered out in the "Western" world since a misunderstanding of Newton created a mechanical understanding of the universe (compounding Descartes split between mind, body and soul).
Other cultures, on many continents, acknowledge the experience of such realities. I have collected over 60 words for subtle energy. Many are from traditional cultures-- some are from scientists who stumbled on these phenomena (oh, so dangerous for getting tenure) and needed to invent their own terminology.
I submit that many of the protestors of the cemetery violation actually experienced the disturbance of the place, and perhaps even of the dead themselves. Could it be not an idea, but a response to a situation that "Western" culture ill equips one to perceive.
- Katja Biesanz
I am enjoying listening to the discussion on "stalled immigrants" and am wondering if your guest would like to comment on the notions of bicultural identity and culture change. The reason I am asking these questions is simple -- Polo's discussion perhaps assumes that culture and identity are fixed or stalled. Is that the case?
I moved to Oregon from Colorado where nearly 50% of the population is non-white/European. I saw rampant discrimination as a child but also grew up in an era of increasing tolerance. Moreover, my career made it imperative to know Spanish. Having spent the last ten years working in kitchen beside immigrants who may or may not be legal, who may or may not be using their real name/SS#, I saw first hand the effects and difficulties of being here in the US yet remaining invisible. I also recognize if I had choice of hiring an immigrant or a citizen, I would hire the immigrant: they work harder, learn faster and do more to succeed than their lazier, white coworkers. Listening to the program I thought of all the immigrants I knew in kitchens and if I could hire all of them at once, I'd have one heck of a staff. Thanks for your hard work, Polo.
While I know the children of immigrants do not have a choice in the matter and some innigrants are running from horrible situations I cannot help but get the feeling that by being white, born and bread in this country I am automatically some terrible cold crule person who wants only to make life hard for the people who chose to move here. I'm not evil.
I immigrated to the Pacific Northwest in my undergraduate college years from my American dream youth of SE Pennsylvania, during the VietNam war.
Here we are a stand for sustainability and community - I live this now in my Buddhist community (www.portlandinsight.org/library)and family.
Am posting now to praise Polo's skillful speaking and stand he takes for community and communications. Thank you Polo. May all be well
If you're in this country illegally, don't expect to be coddled, culturally or otherwise. If your kids grow up with a complex, it's your fault.
Stalled immigrant? I don't think so!
I am an immigrant who came to this country legally 12 years ago with nothing more than hope. I believe I speak for the silent many who do not wish to be part of the digruntled, downtrodden immigrant cadre who cling on to their collective misery instead of celebrating all the amazing opportunities that America presents.
I truly believe that there is no other country in the world that offers as many opportunities and options for any of its inhabitants, including immigrants, as long as thry are willing to cast off the martyr mantle and embrace those opportunities.
Yes, things are not perfect, but as an immigrant you are only here because it is better than where you came from so stop whining and get on with living.
I came here with my eyes open and never expected the US to owe me anything with respect to understanding me, my culture or to make exceptions for any of my "cultural peculiarities", duck sacrifices or other... I also had no expectations of handouts, special considerations or any special treatment. Why should I? People are drawn to successful societies because of hope. Many times hope can be unreasonable, unrealistic and just downright ridiculous because of the dream of the green grass over the fence, but if it so bad here why is there a continued influx?
I am so tired of hearing about all that is wrong in the US from the "weary pilgrims" fresh off the proverbial boat. If it is so bad go home! America is not an ancient society that requires strict conformance to millenia of ridgid norms. It is more like the fondue pot of the world and if you want to be successful here and I do not mean that just financially, then you need to throw your lump of cheese in the pot and melt. By doing so you will add to the flavor and complexity. Pebbles and others are not going to become part of the mix, they will just fall to the bottom and make a noise. Why should immigrants come here and try and change the current social fiber? I say add to it and grow with it, if you want to change something go "home" and start there.
Enjoy and be proud of your ethnic and cultural history it makes you who you are but if you are here by choice, and most are, then integrate, assimilate and be American. Just like the millions of Europeans, Africans, Australians, New Zealanders, Persians, Scandanavians et al who currently make up the cultural weave of this grand country. If you cannot do this then you are missing the point and should go and find it where you can, life is way to short to spend moaning about your adopted country.
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