Unthinkable

Met a talented woman at a party last week. She’d made the super impressive cake for the guest of honor, a friend’s son newly graduated from medical school. I marveled over the way the writing of his name on the coat of the cake was delicate and perfect.

It really was, and the filling delicious, too.

Later, three of us began a conversation away from the crowd out on the orchid-filled patio by the pool. The whole environment suddenly cooled thanks to a welcome burst of rain which, coupled with the pocket of quiet, felt like a secret to just sit and treasure together a while.

A chance to chat.

Our talk was about jobs, mostly, leading into my desire to use my paralegal skills in some way, “busy-work, something to aid lawyers working with detainment and immigration issues I hope … something I can feel good about.” Then I learned that her main gig is that of a teacher… currently working in an immigrant detention center not too far from me.

This brought a brief silence between us.

One can’t fault those working inside the facilities too much, or, can they? I don’t have a clear answer, which is the biggest problem with bureaucracy, after all: distance from responsibility. As an individual, she is, I’m absolutely sure, loving with the kids (well, teenagers) she teaches, attentive, and has their interests at heart. No one, certainly not me, would want to deprive them of that care nor make their daily lives less comfortable in any way. That is why even some politicians who protest the centers, continue to vote to fund them.

Still, speaking with this young woman was a rare opportunity to hear the perspective of someone regularly inside a system which, although she insists it’s not the case, lacks transparency. She expressed with no small measure of passion, that some kids were living in better conditions than they ever had in their lives… well fed, wearing clothes of their own, able to sleep in safety. She praised the availability of meals, classes, structure, and said that a few of the girls told her personally, that they were happy there, and hopeful about their futures.

Further, she was disgusted by the disruption brought about by those creating chaos at the gates, which causes the kids to be kept inside more than they might otherwise, “to shield them.” Some days, when from her perspective politicians want to make scenes, it takes hours for those who work at the facility to get in and out. “People would not do that if they were really concerned about those inside.”

I didn’t doubt her impressions. Her personal experience is something I place great value in and appreciate her sharing. It may be that the facility she works in is better run than the ones in Texas we are finally hearing about, for one thing. OR, it may be that it is impossible to see the whole from within one part.

And I think we must deal with the whole of the situation.

It was obvious a little further into our conversation, that she didn’t take issue with the premise of the facilities themselves, nor policies of this administration generally. Like so many where I live in South Florida, she’s been convinced of our President as a “businessman” – brash and unpolished, but not wrong in setting drastic limitations with those who “should come legally.”

Yes, he is about business… but in this case it is the interests of an ever-expanding private prison industry… a system I already abhor. It is truly beyond my capacity to fathom how well-oiled and finely targeted propaganda machines have proven to be, that people can feel hidden behind this thin facade of legitimate system.

I don’t mean to say that this woman I spoke to buys into the ‘other’ narratives I describe. Even while knowing my views are drastically different, she didn’t treat me with disdain, for one thing.

I do worry though, about deep pockets of ignorance. For instance, my kids received less than half the Holocaust education I did as a child. Almost all of that education originated at home. What does that mean for the populace on the whole?

The conversation we had, expanded my sense of doubt about having a decent grasp on the scope of it all, and gave me a clearer, more fully dimensional picture of the people making one-on-one connections and impacts within these situations. Yet, it didn’t alter my overall sense of horror about the camps, and the desired proliferation of them if this administration has its way, which it is getting far too often.

In fact, my sense of foreboding has deepened, “Ah, this how the Unthinkable actually happens, ‘how’ a world lets it happen.” Who can push back such a great and ultimately quite quiet, tide?

Especially when they feel, “Who can push back such a great and ultimately quite quiet, tide…”

What I think is an important and measured article:

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