A conversation that I had with another healthcare provider has me pondering a lot of things. Until now, I’d been pondering these things in a solitary way but I think that I’m going to put these ponderable thoughts up on the blog.
This post gets a little more political than my usual stuff. I don’t post politics up here unless the politics specifically relate to EMS (unless they’d get me in a lot of trouble, for example the best EMS delivery model).
But today, I’m making an exception. I think that some of the things that I’m pondering have to be put out there and I think that if I don’t throw this out to the blogosphere I’m gonna go nuts.
I work in a community that has a large Hispanic population. A good portion of them are probably undocumented immigrants from Mexico. Yes, I said “undocumented” and that can mean Illegal immigrants if you so choose to say that. It’s a fact that small towns in the Midwest have been growing by leaps and bounds with undocumented immigrants looking to find work wherever they can. Some of them have legal members of their family that they live with, some don’t.
There’s a huge debate going on in this country over illegal immigration. It’s bigger than me, it’s bigger than this blog, and it’s bigger than EMS. I’m not going to get into my personal opinion on the topic as much as I would if we were discussing this in a bar over a couple of beers, or a country cafe over coffee if you’re a morning person. I can say this: I’m all for border security. I’m all for people following the law and I believe that illegal immigration is a drain on our resources. Those points are barely arguable. Another thing I believe in are the words to a song that I used to sing when I was with a rather patriotic small-town childrens’ choir. The song went something like this: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe fee. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” There’s a lady that stands in the harbor that has these words inscribed upon her, and they mean something.
I look upon this debate and I see both sides fervently trying to destroy any point-of-view other than their own. The lefties want them here because their hearts bleed for them. The righties think that the lefties want them because they can mold them into a new communist workers’ party. Both of them may be right. I am more of the opinion that America is an experiment. We’re a melting pot of people that have come together over the last two-hundred and some odd years to be stronger in our diversity. I believe that any cultural group entering our melting pot should come here and embrace the American ideals. “Melt” into the pot if you will. This has made us strong over the centuries and has built the country that I love, the one I will stand up for. Europe didn’t do that, they isolated their ethnicities into countries and fought amonst each other for a thousand years. We melted and homogenized into a strong nation full of rugged individuals championing their best ideals. I say that the most successful immigrant groups in the storied history of this nation celebrated their old cultures while melting in to our diverse one.
As far as today’s debate goes, I wonder if that would be the whole rub. Are the new illegal immigrants celebrating their own culture while melting into ours? Or our they placing their old culture on top of the American culture and creating discord within a proud nation? I think that we have always accepted the “Tired and poor huddled massess yearning to breathe free” because of our American Dream. People here have equal opportunity, a guarantee of the equal chance for humans to strive to reach their potential. Everyone has the chance to try and succeed to their own definition of success. “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” is a guarantee of the chance to pursue. It is not, however, a guarantee of results. Our experiment is that everyone who has the chance will strive to give it their best shot, and that the people who succeed will pull others up alongside them.
I can’t say what’s right here. I don’t know. I don’t want to offend, but here I am, a paramedic. My job is to help everyone and anyone who needs me. I will do so. I have always done so. I took an oath and I honor my convictions. The hypocratic oath means something to me. Healthcare providers are honor-bound to help everyone as much as they can. I always will.
The conversation that we had was short, but he got his point across. I had brought up that while we have a large hispanic population in our coverage area, we rarely have calls involving those hispanic members of our population. I think that this is a bad thing because obviously these people fall ill and get injured at a rate comparable or even moreso than the other demographic groups in our area. I don’t know why they’re not calling but I can figure that it might be alleviated for the good of our community as a whole if we reach out to this population and let them know how, and when, to access the emergency healthcare system. I don’t believe in race and to me “hispanic” is a cultural label and is not even close to whatever “racial” means, but this is a cultural group that should be calling us and doesn’t. It’s deliniated over cultural lines and therefore is handy to address that way.
The other guy thought that it was stupid, pointless, and maybe even wrong to do this. It was because of the “illegal” thing. As strongly as I feel on that issue, and I do have strong feelings, as a healthcare provider my job is to help everyone. Every human deserves the best care that we can give them, every time. I don’t judge people. He shouldn’t either.
Neither should you.