There’s an old farm boy fable about two long-tailed cats who met face-to-face while walking along the top of a fence. Neither would let the other pass, and neither would back down. So they clawed each other to death. Problem solved!
That fable taught us boys that nobody wins some catfights. The fight becomes the whole issue. The better alternative to “Win or Lose” is “Cooperate.” Of course everybody knows cooperation is not possible, if you’re a long-tailed cat on a fence — or maybe an American politician in the 21st century. The problem seems to be that each of those two species of critter seems to think it is always right. And right is always better than getting where they’re going. Once there’s a fight to win, the issue becomes “Who wins?” instead of whatever the real issue is.
The Jamestown Gazette’s cover story this week says the cats have not yet clawed each other to death and the bystanders – us – haven’t been hurt much yet by the flying fur. But that is not the whole story. In the present political environment we are all acting like, or we are spectators of, those cats on the fence. The real issue might not be about political parties, or fences, or billions of dollars, or hoards of immigrants. The catfight has distracted us from the real issue.
Ask why thousands of people are on the run. Which media outlet, or documentary moviemaker, or author has told us what has terrified them so? That would be like asking those two cats where they were headed in the first place. Consider what it would take for you to grab your spouse and children and hardly more than what’s on your back and start walking a couple of thousand miles in the wind, rain and sun. Nobody does that for fun, or even to steal the lowest-paying jobs from “real Americans.” They are fleeing from human disasters of unimaginable proportions – poverty, oppression, violence and corruption beyond our imaginations. They might not be running toward our borders as much as they are running from their own.
The question, then, should not be about letting them in, or keeping them out. Why is nobody talking about how can we help make it better for them to stay happily in their own homeland? Or have we simply given up trying to put out fires, save foundering ships, or teaching people how to fish? The real battle is not anywhere near the U.S.-Mexico border, and it is especially nowhere near Washington, D.C. There is a reason to offer refuge, of course. We helped people who escaped from California’s terrible fires last year, but we also worked very hard to put out the fires. The fires were big news. Sadly, the terrors people are escaping from in Central America are almost entirely ignored and unknown, not news at all. If we want to save our borders – a good idea – it might start by putting out the fires that people are fleeing from.
Rather than fighting over which cat can have its way atop the fence, maybe both of them should get off it and find a better way. We don’t need a winner, we need a government. Tell your favorite cat to wage peace, not war. It’s not about winning or losing, it’s about real goals and cooperation.
Enjoy the read.