With so many pressing issues around the world as well as here at home, it seems difficult to focus on actions or responses that are best to undertake. With rampaging wildfires, destructive flood events, a hasty retreat from Afghanistan, the COVID impact and threat, a devastating earthquake, and hurricane damage, we are seeing that there are many fellow human beings suffering and in peril.
It brings into question the resilience of our economic, political, and personal systems that sustain us particularly in the context of the rapidly changing climatic effects that are occurring.
Calamitous events cause huge migratory pressures as humans leave destroyed and/or perilous areas. We see this with the huge number of refugees and asylum seekers flocking to the US border. The horrific hurricane damages in Central America added immense pressure on the social order in already unstable economic and political conditions. It is one thing to see Californians lose their homes to wildfire and need to move elsewhere but, I would argue, it is even more challenging when already overwhelmingly impoverished people lose everything due to storms, earthquakes, drought, and a disintegrated social order.
We can see that our country along with Europe can look like the place to go to the large proportion of the world that is on shaky footing regarding economic opportunity - not to mention the vagaries of a shifting climate. This migratory pressure certainly tests our capacity to show humanity to fellow human beings in trouble.
This is something we must come to grips with not just through our political systems but very likely on a personal level. It can be argued that we have shown a callous side with a propensity to push away, ignore, and even demonize fellow humans in trouble in order to preserve what we have for ourselves.
Our inability as a country to address immigration and its drivers has gone on for years. The constant litigation over rules and executive orders shows that the immigration laws on the books are not sufficiently comprehensive. Emergency situations such as climatic and weather disasters or even events like the retreat from Afghanistan will continue to be issues moving froward. We need political leaders that will be clearheaded and retool immigration laws comprehensively as well as harden our internal resilience.
The Biden “Build Back Better” plan can be parsed to be targeting at strengthening our resilience. Servicing infrastructure, fostering clean energy, adding energy efficient housing, adjusting the tax burden fairly, addressing educational costs, addressing equitable economic opportunity are proposed actions that can be viewed as making America better. But one can say that they can also make America more appealing to those outside our borders.
An important consideration is that the investment in making things “better” needs to be effectively spread further than our borders. Without it we have not secured a future without desperate clamoring people at our borders trying to save themselves.
It is not an easy task as shown in our nation building efforts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and elsewhere. Corruption, lack of coordinated strategies with broad based and empowered local support, plus disruptive actions by adversaries have thwarted such actions.
There is not an easy path but, at a minimum, any way forward calls for shared pragmatic sensible actions by our political leaders, not the “MY team must win at any cost” that prevails today. We need to consider ourselves on the same team to meet our significant challenges.
W Laurence Doxsey, Retired, Former Director of Office of Sustainability for City of San Antonio, former Environmental Officer for US Department of Housing and Urban Development, former Sustainability Officer for City of Austin, resides outside Medina.
Laurence Doxsey, Retired, Former Director of Office of Sustainability for City of San Antonio, former Environmental Officer for US Department of Housing and Urban Development, former Sustainability Officer for City of Austin, resides outside Medina..