Saturday, March 21, 2009

Immigrants, Sacrifice, and a Brighter Future for our Kids

For a variety of reasons, I've been thinking quite a bit lately about one of the guiding principles of good parenthood: the hope that our kids have a better life than we do. We all share this hope, don't we? It's only natural. But do we all feel it equally? More precisely, do we all make the same effort?

I don't think so.

Lately, I've had occasion to be around a few working-class foreigners here in Japan. Immigrating from the Philippines, China and elsewhere, they, like immigrants around the world, endure profound hardships. They don't speak the language; they following a strange religion; they look different; they have no family or close friends nearby, and they are often quite poor. Society looks down on them: they are the suspects of crime, depredation, and immorality. They suffer discrimination and ridicule at every turn.

But they endure these profound hardships because they know their kids will benefit by growing up in a country infinitely safer and more prosperous then their own.

Lately, I've begun looking at working-class immigrant families with a sense of awe. I wonder honestly if I have the same mettle. They endure so much and sacrifice so greatly to ensure their kids have a better future. What do I do? I read to my kids before they go to bed. I try to tell them creative stories and listen when they have something to say. I stash away a few dollars for their education. That's about it and it's nothing compared to the Herculean efforts of so many immigrants here in Japan, the US and around the world.

I wonder how different the world would be if all made the same sacrifices; if we all put the same effort into our kids' futures as do so many working-class immigrants.

What do you think?

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