Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A Short Little Parable About Immigration

There was once a rich man - let’s call him “Dives” just for fun - who feasted every night, and wore fine clothes and lived on a large estate. On an adjacent estate there lived a poor beggar - just for fun, let’s call him “Juan Lazarus” - whose master was having a rough time, due to a combination of bad luck, some bad business decisions, and the fact that his wealthy neighbor got preferential treatment at the markets where he sold his estate’s goods.

Because Juan’s family was suffering greatly, he decided to go to Dives’ estate and seek work there. Some of Dives’ guards turned him away at the gate, saying that Juan would take work away from workers who were already there. Juan was confused by this, because he could see that everyone on the estate was busily working, and still there were plenty of plows sitting idle, and a millstone was sitting unused while grain piled up around it, and the outbuildings needed new roofs which no one had time to attend to. Juan also noticed that there were workers from some other estates in the area, doing more skilled work around the estate.

“But there is plenty of work, and my family needs clothing and shelter. Please, can’t you be merciful to me, and let me provide for my family?” begged Juan, hat in hand.

Some of the workers from the fields, at the urging of some of the princes of the estate, came and threatened Juan, and told him in no uncertain terms that they would treat him as a criminal if he trespassed onto Dive’s estate and sought work. The princes sought to distract them from the fact that their low wages were due far more to the greed of the princes, and had very little to do with the competition from any workers from Juan’s estate.

“Can’t you all forgive me my trespasses?” begged Juan. “I seek only bread for my family, as do all of you for your families. Surely you can underst-”

But the workers shouted him down, saying “Criminal! You are coming to take our jobs, as the princes say!”

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