This Sunday morning, CNN referred today as a “Solutions Sunday”, where people were encouraged to have Sunday dinner in a home with people of another race besides your own. Republican Senator James Lankford on Oklahoma was one of the hosts. Lankford said “Step outside your comfort zone and invite someone into your circle”. Maybe your inner sanctum.
Despite living in an “inherited” trust house, I really haven’t been in the “business” of having guests at home, because I’m so busy with personal projects. Events these days are nearly always in facilities. So there’s nothing unusual about great diversity in public spaces, but I have to admit that at home it sounds a bit novel.
When I lived in New York City, and sometimes before in New Jersey, I did sometimes have house parties or events, and I have had a few house guests over the years, mostly related in the past to college, chess clubs, or people in the LGBT community (not just “tricks”, although that happened a little in the 1970s). I’ve stayed with people , but very little since probably the 1970s. The largest event I ever held in my own space was an “Understanding” meeting (I think it was Wednesday, May 19) with about 25 people crowded into my own little studio apartment in the Cast Iron Building on E 11th St.
But it is very hard to help people without openness to letting it be personal if it need be (countering the “mind your own business” society), and for older adults, that’s often frankly easier when “you” have had and raised “your” own kids first.
I get a lot of pressure from others these days to become more open to “gratuitous” socializing and even dating, in my own home court, partly so that I don’t (at 73) remain “an accident waiting to happen” (to quote Jonathan Rauch in his mid 1990s book “Gay Marriage”). Yes, I prefer to remain individually productive and get recognized for my content (but not just with hyperbolic phrases like “esteemed author”). But it seems people see a continuum bridging fixing inequality in an economic or politic sense, and the way people actually make social and intimate “choices”.
Maybe nowhere is that idea so stark as in the issue of assisting refugees and asylum seekers, all over the world, but most of all in Europe, and then Canada, with the most comprehensive private sponsorship program in the world.
The New York Times has a booklet-length story today by Jodi Kantor and Katrin Eimhorn, “Canadians Adopted Refugee Families for a Year; Then Came Month 13”. Refugee families were supposed to be cut loose from dependence on the private groups (usually of 5 people or 5 families, associated with various faith-based and sometimes secular groups) for rent and many other expenses. (In the US, where there is no private sponsorship as such, refugee families get some benefits, but generally depend on congregational offerings for some of the rent, almost always in commercially run apartments; in the US you have about 20 families in a congregation assisting one refugee family instead of just five as in Canada). What’s interesting about the story is that in Canada, many of the refugees did not speak English and had few job skills, and needed intensive personal attention from sponsors. In the US, generally, most of the refugees allowed in have male providers with considerable job skills and can speak English. “Blame Canada”, as in “Southpark“? The country seems to produce outstanding citizens. Look how well they do in Hollywood.
The New York Times missive bares some comparison to how the Mariel boatlift was handled in 1980, where churches asked people to put up refugees (often LGBT) in their own homes, very suddenly, mainly in southern cities. But it turned out that many refugees would need constant attention as many did not speak English and had no skills. Very few found “sponsors” on the spur of the moment.
Asylum seekers, as I have covered here, face a different situation, as they (usually) have already been in the country legally because of school or job skills. (That doesn’t include those put in detention and the border, and are generally released only if there are relatives who know them.) Canada’s reputation of relative generosity (especially relative to Trump) has led to some US asylum seekers crossing into Canada, especially Manitoba.
I’ve covered more details on my own situation on another blog, here.
(Posted: Monday, March 27, 2017 at 12:15 AM EDT)