Community Voices
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At a time when so many important issues such as immigration, race, trade, corruption, taxes, etc. are at the forefront of our conversations and local/national news, I share this excerpt from a speech given by a past inhabitant of the White House in the hope we all will consider his words as we try to find common ground and the common good.

“I’ve spoken of the Shining City all of my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw and when I said it.”

Our nation is currently at odds and too often fueled by our politics. Mostly through words, however too often through acts of aggression over what and who should participate in the Shining City. We shut down the government over trivial matters, compared to what is important and needs to be improved in our neighborhoods and country. The Shining City is a much-needed aspiration, but we have a long way to go.

“But in my mind, it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace. A city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity.”

We truly have “people of all kinds” living in this country, which is as it should be given how it was designed and promoted. But the “living in harmony and peace” part is another matter. The hate we give and the hate we teach our children over race, religion, differences of opinion, and putting “getting mine” far ahead of promoting the collective good – these are all current factors competing against said harmony and peace.

“And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here.”

We must have a functional immigration system that can meet the challenges we face today, but this will require more than a wall. We need a functional and empathetic system, plan, and deployment that does not change due to which political party is currently in power. Practically all of our predecessors were immigrants looking for this Shining City to provide them and their families with a better life. Sadly today, to be an immigrant is often a punching bag for too many of those who already got theirs.

“That’s how I saw it and still see it…and she’s still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness towards home.”

So who is this past inhabitant of the White House who dreamed of the Shining City as a beacon for those “who must have freedom”? The author of these words and aspirations was none other than President Ronald Reagan, who initiated an amnesty program for those undocumented souls during his presidency, and even raised taxes to better balance the budget. Here’s to hoping for pragmatic leadership once again.

photo of san pedro today author Mike Lansing

Mike Lansing

Mike Lansing is the Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Los Angeles Harbor.