The politics of Living in Fear

Emotions are funny things. Our lives are governed by doing things that make us feel good, and trying to avoid things that make us feel bad.

I guess pain is also like an emotion. The body produces physical pain in order to teach you how to protect yourself. If you touch the hot stove and it really hurts, you won't likely do that again. But if you were able to sever the nerve connections between your finger and your arm, so that the pain message never got to your brain, you could hold your finger to the stove until it was well done.

Emotions like fear and guilt are unpleasant but are also there for a reason, which is to teach us lessons. If you feel guilty, you may have done something wrong and should reconsider your actions. If you walk down the dark alley at night and feel fear, you may want to change your path to choose a safer route.

Fears can be rational or irrational. If someone holds a gun with no bullets in it, and then points it at you, you will probably feel fear because of the potential shooting. If you are certain the gun is empty, most people would still feel fear. But pointing a pillow at someone and threatening to toss it would not normally produce fear. Fear of a pillow would be an example of irrational fear. I'd say fear of an empty gun would be rational until you were completely convinced the gun was empty. At that point, fear should disappear and a rational fear would become irrational.

If you are walking alone at night and see a dark alley, do you turn down it because that saves you from walking around the block? What if there is a mob halfway down the alley, yelling, throwing and breaking bottles, lighting fires, smoking cigarettes, and drinking. Do you still take the shortcut or do you go the long way around?

Some might argue that a public street should be safe at all times, and that it is illegal for someone to assault you, and that if you were assaulted, the police might catch the criminals and prosecute them. So, rationally, you could just stride down the alley because that is your right. I'd just go around.

If you were walking down the well-lit, empty alley and from out of nowhere, a mob formed, the street lights were shot out, and your safe escape became impossible, that would be bad luck. But knowingly putting yourself into that situation is stupid. If your body did not warn you through fear, then maybe you did not learn that important lesson growing up. Your "fight or flight" instinct might kick in and you could run away from danger, or maybe you would control your emotions, face the danger, and become a crime statistic instead.

If every night, that same mob hangs out in the alley so that law-abiding citizens cannot use it, then the local police are not doing their job. This is why the persistent crime rates in places like Chicago are so disheartening. Stuff like that shouldn't be going on for weeks, let alone months, years, and decades. It is literally sickening and outrageous that such conditions are allowed to exist in America. But we have to find a better balance between liberties, safety, and helping the poor. Something isn't being done right if our poverty programs are creating ghettos, allowing gangs to foment, poor schools are failing inner cities, etc. I hope the new administration figures this out and we don't kick the can down the road another ten or twenty years. "Throwing money" at the problem does not work, that we should have learned. Well, Republicans have learned that lesson and Democrats still think that is the solution: just force these kids to go to their local public school and keep the gravy train rolling because everything must be fine.

People who live in the crime-infested areas of Chicago are "living in fear" and that needs to stop.

But now, the same phrase in our illegal-immigration debate is "living in fear," as in, "people here illegally should not be living in fear." My question is, "Why not?"

Fear is an emotion that is telling you that something is wrong, that you are in danger. Illegal aliens have a rational fear of capture and deportation, not an irrational fear. The fear is telling them to modify their behavior, in this case, to either leave the country, or contact an attorney for legal help in staying. Or they can try to stay under the radar and keep "living in fear" if they so choose.

Some countries that people come from are dangerous, barbaric places. In fact, many of these countries might be. Citizens of those countries deserve a better life because they are human beings and all humans deserve that. But this must be balanced with several other factors. Pro-amnesty groups only seem to look at the illegal aliens' predicament and see an obvious solution (let them stay, fear-free), while anti-illegal-immigrant groups weigh several factors more strongly:

1. We are a country with borders. Opening up our borders could ruin the country in countless ways. Having a borderless or effectively borderless country is not an option.

2. We are a country of laws. Ignoring laws we may not like is not how to change them. Allowing lawless behavior without consequences is not an option.

3. We allow plenty of foreigners into the country each year. The debate isn't whether or not to allow immigrants, it is how many. Our Congress is supposed to set these limits and our President should be able to enforce them. How else is the system supposed to work?

4. If some people believe that our immigration quotas and visas and such are not adequate, we should contact our Congressmen and ask for revisions.

Let's say that the pro-illegal-alien advocates get their way, and we ignore the transgression of being in the country illegally. This encourages more of the same lawless behavior and makes us question whether we can just ignore laws we happen to disagree with. If we accept the person who swims across the border at night, can we refuse the next person on the river bank ready to make the journey? How about the person in the city ready to travel to the riverbank? How about the person ready to move to the city to earn enough money to travel to the riverbank? Or are we essentially back to open borders?

People who have done nothing wrong should not have to live in fear. It is an unpleasant emotion, and we should not accept that law-abiding citizens are in constant fear. That is what countries and societies are partly for: to give people security to pursue their paths. But the United States cannot be the country of last resort for the entire world. What makes us special will not last if that occurs. And once we accept the need for laws and borders, and a system of democratic government to create and enforce those laws, we should expect people here to obey them.

One strange side note. The Beacon published several letters last week from legal immigrants supporting Acton being a Sanctuary Town. I guess this letter-writing campaign was meant to counter the majority of immigrants who spoke against the Sanctuary Town concept at the Board of Selectmen meeting a couple of weeks ago.

Most of the letters mixup "immigrant" with "illegal immigrant" as if those two terms are synonymous. One letter writer even suggested that a President Trump could give legal immigrants trouble too, but that is exactly the point. Having experienced life under a Communist dictatorship which has no rule of law, why would they want to make our system more like theirs, where the whims of our leaders decide what is legal rather than the laws our system has produced?

What stops a President Trump from doing whatever he personally wants are the equal protection and enforcement of our laws.

Legal immigrants should not be fearful of deportation. We don't deport non-citizens if they are here legally and have not committed any crimes. If a legal immigrant has an irrational fear, he or she should try to deal with that. But we cannot base our policies on irrational fears.

If we ignore our laws and following the law becomes just a suggestion, while breaking the law becomes accepted, then legal immigrants (and, of course, citizens too) have much more to fear in the long run. It is the law that protects everyone here legally.

I understand why a legal immigrant might support an illegal immigrant because they might share some culture or experience. But having people here illegally, not allowed to work, not supposedly getting public assistance, just creates many long-term problems.

Illegal immigrants need to get right with the law. That is the obvious and humane solution.

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