Sunday, May 02, 2010

Lifeboat Rules?

The Ivory Madonna believes in trying to understand her opponents. It's always tempting to dismiss those who don't agree with her as ignorant idiots at best, or evil sociopaths at worst. But neither leads to useful discussion or rational solutions, so she'd rather assume that her opponents have soi-disant "reasons" for their actions.

Which brings us to the recent Arizona immigrant law.

This law is a clear expression of the larger sentiment behind it: that immigrants are not welcome. That they consume resources belonging to native-born citizens. That they should not be allowed to partake in the bounty that the rest of us enjoy. In effect, it's a sentiment that says, "Hey, buddy, I've got mine, the hell with you."

This same sentiment is applied to the rest of the underclass: the poor, the unlucky, those without good jobs or medical insurance or influential friends & family.

How can we understand this? In what kind of world is this sentiment right and moral?

Actually, there is such a world. It's called Lifeboat Rules.

In matters of life and death, when there are only enough resources to keep a small, finite number alive...then it is right and moral to keep others out. If you let everyone swarm aboard the lifeboat, it will be swamped and all will die.

The Ivory Madonna believes that this is the key to understanding those who say "I've got mine, to hell with you." They feel that we are in a lifeboat: that there isn't enough to go around, that if we let more people aboard, we will all perish.

Now, the Ivory Madonna disagrees: she thinks that our country is wealthy enough -- in riches, in ability, in ingenuity, and in compassion -- to share the benefits of our society with all who come here to live. She feels that welcoming immigrants has served us very well in the past, and there's no reason to stop.

However, the important thing is that by shifting the discussion to whether or not lifeboat rules apply, we've changed the nature of the dialogue. And maybe we'll start talking rationally to one another.

The Ivory Madonna's story is told in Dance for the Ivory Madonna by Don Sakers. Like the blog? Send the author a donation.  Subscribe in a reader

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