Gregory Stock’s third book, after The Book of Questions and The Book of Questions: Love & Sex, is The Book of Questions: Business, Politics and Ethics. As its title suggests, this book is filled with provocative questions on topics we are all encouraged to avoid, in casual conversation–topics that could even lead to fistfights! Some of them presume the reader has a job–even a business of his or her own. I have neither, at this time, but I can just answer them as if I did. And as you can see from the very beginning–these are arguably the toughest of Gregory Stock’s questions.
Here’s the first question from the book, followed by my answer.
If you were determining who could immigrate here, would you let in those you thought would contribute the most to our country or those most in need of refuge?
I’d like to say both, of course. But I doubt this question’s meant to be that simple.
The United States was established by people who had just fought–and won–a revolution against an oppressive empire. These revolutionaries designed a representative republic intentionally structured to prevent further oppression of its citizens–even by this representative republic itself. In other words, this new nation would serve as a refuge from tyranny at home, as well as abroad.
Of course all were not free from tyranny. The Native Americans continued to be victimized–in some ways even more than they’d been, under the European empires. And the enslavement of African Americans continued. There were even many European and Asian Americans who were victimized, under indentured servitude.
But the beauty of this new form of government was that it allowed for such injustices to be terminated, through legislation.
And since this nation was established, it has served as a refuge for people suffering oppression worldwide.
Most Americans today are descendants of those most in need of refuge. Thus we are ethically compelled, as a nation, to provide refuge for others, in turn.
Of course we cannot take in everyone in need of refuge at once–there simply isn’t enough room.
And we must be certain that we take in those truly in need of refuge–as opposed to those who would simply take advantage of us. Furthermore, we must make sure to completely assimilate immigrants within a reasonable amount of time–that they learn our official language, become familiar with our laws, and become naturalized citizens loyal to our nation and respectful of its people.
After all–it is in this way that those most in need of refuge can contribute the most to our country.
So yes, if I were determining who could immigrate here, I would let in those most in need of refuge.