Rights should never override gratitude. We lose perspective when we lean on any kind of entitlement.
Any grants bestowed by law are part of a social contract in which we agree to give and receive, not because of a divine privilege, but because we learned the lesson from History.
It’s foolish to perceive ourselves as immortals just because a law grants us the right to live. That law is not there to protect one singular existence but the harmonious coexistence of the group. The enforcement of that law and the attainment of that harmony are imperfect and incomplete. But even in the precise mechanics of a Swiss clock, a certain level of imprecision is expected. It’s not gratuitous that in certain languages that inaccuracy is called “tolerance”.
We can’t take the law personal because it’s not personal, it’s social. It’s meant to keep your state to collide with another state, not to solve any issue that may arise between you and your neighbor.
It’s tempting to regard the rule of law as code for moral conviction, so everybody wants a bill pass to reflect their beliefs as if they were in need of some sort of formal enactment. This may be a reverberation of the religious nature of earlier social contracts. Now we need to learn that laws are not an enumeration of principles but a set of rules that, over the course of history, we have come to regard as practical for the good of society, but not always for the good of an individual.
The media is particularly interested with those exceptions when somebody is victimized, and even more when acquitted by the legal apparatus. That gives us the false impression of a “broken” legal system, while nobody gives much publicity to those cases where it actually works. Precisely the fact that a fair verdict is not news is good news.
Those of us that came from abroad had the experience of living with governments that grew too much and with systematic corruption. Those who came here after not having the American system are prone to gratitude before criticism. The endeavor of perfecting the law is way easier that the bloody task of establishing it. The journalist business of entertainment will not persuade me otherwise.
I love this country, not for the obligated call of duty but for the warm whim of choice. I love the attainment of the present and embrace the dream of the future. What America gets with new immigrants is more than cheap labor; it’s a wave of gratitude. We renew the spirit of this country for those who have never skip a meal or sleep on the floor to attain their goals. We keep coming in, from England, Spain, Cuba, China… and we are here to give, not to take.
This call is not for the natural born, but for my comrades, the newcomers. We came here as guests, and as such we should behave at the table. It doesn't matter what your papers say; don’t feel entitled. You know better how fragile those “rights” are. Never demand respect, earn it. Some groups are marked by the ingratitude of others that came here to demand things or even to destroy. Instead of begging to be perceived as an exemption, be exceptional. It may take more than one generation to clean up the bad reputation our grandparents delegated to us, but we are here to give, and even with nothing in our hands we can always deliver humbleness.
Laws will come and go. Forms will be filled, and “rights” will be granted. Take the bread but never demand it. Let’s build a new reputation. Let’s compensate for our broken English and dislocated manners with an irresistible disposition towards gratitude. And when your children start to grow spoiled, buy them a ticket to your country of origin and ask them to try to get a job. You need to experience some scarcity before appreciating this land of abundance.