Quote of the day/week/however long

"Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does."
~William James

Thursday, April 16, 2015

You Might be a Consular Officer If ...

- You start a conversation with the smelly homeless drunk who is sharing your park bench.  You find him interesting and articulate. You save his best stories to retell at the next reception.

- You can't borrow anyone's bathroom without looking in the medicine cabinet.

- You can use any bathroom or bathroom-like facility with aplomb, no matter how different it is from the one you grew up with.

 - You can't help asking most of the obvious immigrants you meet how they got to the US, just because you love to hear their life stories. You don't have to ask where they came from; you can tell.

- You will eat anything. After all, if a few million people like it, it must be good.

- When a group of people starts doing something you don't understand, you run over to see if you can do it too.

- You enjoy and have no trouble dealing with mind-blowingly complex multi-person chaos that would send a political officer straight to the bottle and a closet that can be locked from the inside.

- You firmly believe that a day in which you don't learn something surprising is a day that wasn't worth getting up for.

- You will give a dollar to a panhandler and absolutely not care what he might spend it on.

- You find non-American traffic patterns interesting and efficient, not weird and What the heck is wrong with these people that they don't know how to drive?

- When people burst into gales of helpless laughter at your mangling of their language, you laugh with them.

- You would not be at a loss for words if you met the President unexpectedly. You would probably ask him how the toe of his shoe got scuffed, and offer him half of your cookie.

- You don't mind knowing that any local eight-year-old in rags, shoeless, bugs in his hair, never spent three seconds in school, is infinitely better at life here than you are.

- A day in which you don't laugh at yourself is a day in which you suspect you weren't paying attention.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

It Won't Wear Out

 Many years ago, Madam read a book about a Regular White Guy's sojourn among the folks who live north of nearly everything on earth; people to whom the southern tip of Greenland is Miami. Once, during a casual meeting at the nearest store with a group leader (to call the group a tribe would make it sound larger and grander than it actually was), the leader happened to mention that a distant relative had passed through his village. As was the custom, the leader had invited the visitor in, fed him, and lent him his wife for the night.

The RWG was shocked. How, he asked, could a man so casually share his wife with another man?

The leader, in his turn, was simply puzzled. Why not? he asked. It was a hospitable thing to do, his wife was happy to do it, and it's not like she would wear out.

You Southerners are just so weird.

 Madam thought again of this story while reading through a lawsuit that has to do with retro-cancellation of derivative US citizenship. It can be found here.

 Without digging into the details of the arguments - Madam's readers are welcome to do that themselves, and it's a thought-provoking and rewarding exercise - it does raise an issue that troubles some consular officers: the issue of automatic entitlement to US citizenship through either derivation or jus soli. Somehow, from somewhere, in any conversation about these topics, the feeling sometimes creeps in that these means of becoming US citizens somehow  reduce or weaken or - yes - 'wear out' the value of citizenship.

Madam will leave it to a beloved and respected friend and colleague to respond to this. He recently wrote:
"American citizenship is not a loaf of bread, not finite. When someone becomes a citizen, its not like there's less citizenship left for the rest of us. We Americans are in no way diminished when a foreign woman's baby pops out in US jurisdiction and a new US citizen is born. It is wonderful for me to contemplate the thousands, maybe tens of thousands, of Amcit 3-, 12-, and 19-year-olds germinating in foreign soil in countries around the world. Some day the crop will ripen, some of them will come to America, and the nation will be generally the better for it. As immigration programs go, it strikes me as no worse than the EB-5 or the Lottery as a way to select future citizens."
If I win, who loses? Nobody, that's who.