You might accuse me of eavesdropping, and you’d be right. But I’m glad I did...
We were sitting in a booth in the corner, next to the kitchen.
As my husband excused himself to take a business call, bits and pieces of a conversation behind me grabbed my attention. Glancing over my shoulder, I saw two cleaning women from Mexico on their break, discussing the election — and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
According to these ladies, they’d actually prefer having proper paperwork so they can buy a home, pay their taxes and travel the world, rather than endure the limited ‘hide and sneak’ existence they have now. From what I was hearing, Trump has sparked hope in many like them, giving them the opportunity for a future in which they can gain control of their circumstances, grow as individuals, and earn their living with dignity and self-respect.
At this point, I couldn’t take it any longer.
Turning around and apologizing for the intrusion, I just had to ask:
“But aren’t you afraid of deportation and your families being torn apart?”
They looked at me in a friendly way and said:
“At first we were, but now we are more excited about the possibility of a better future. Besides, in his 60 Minutes interview, Trump did say that he will be deporting illegals with a criminal record first. This is good — we don’t want them here either. We want to live in safe neighborhoods....
"We don’t know how it will be,” they added, getting up and heading back to work, “but instead of worrying, we stay positive and pray it will be good for us and our children. Most of our friends think the same way,” one of them added.
Then they walked away and waved, “Goodbye, lady, have a nice dinner.”
Having just heard these sentiments from two honest, humble and hardworking people, I felt my brain twisting into a knot.
Here we are, big-hearted people, hyper-sensitive about illegal immigrants — wanting to protect them, create ‘sanctuary cities,’ and leap to the rescue.
But apparently, that’s not what they want. And I think I know why.
That very concept implies that someone other than themselves is in charge of their lives.
It strips them of personal responsibility, creating apathy and the tendency to give up — and it’s all very disempowering. There’s nothing more damaging to our self-esteem than being treated like powerless victims. That’s not justice; it’s projecting our own insecurities onto others.
Surprisingly, my recent experience remodeling our backyard came to mind.
Last year we bought an unlivable fixer-upper, a contractor’s dream (as the listing stated) that was perfect for us since, in fact, my husband is a builder-contractor. While he focused on moving the walls in the house, I took on the landscaping project in the backyard. Between dealing with the homeowner’s association, the neighbors, and the city planning department, it took almost a year to complete everything that I’d envisioned.
And then, one warm, sunny day as I relaxed in my lounge chair, gazing upon budding roses intermingled with blossoming fruit trees, I dialed my husband ...
“You know what the best part of all this is?” I asked. “That I created it out of nothing: every petal, every blade of the grass — I did it. It feels so damn great, so fulfilling and satisfying! And I don’t think I’d feel this way if we’d bought this home already remodeled and landscaped by somebody else.”
And that’s what I mean.
Personal growth through achieving our aspirations gives us true happiness and joy that can never come from something outside ourselves, like a meager government handout that lingers over a lifetime.
This is how I have felt ever since the day my family and I came to this country as Jewish refugees from Soviet Russia over 25 years ago.
Sure, we received welfare, Medi-Cal and food stamps for a short period of time, but that was only until we’d adjusted to our new homeland and began contributing to the economy — giving back to our new country.
Apparently, according to the results of the election and the conversation I overheard from two "illegal" immigrants, many people in this country feel like I do and did then.
Ready to take responsibility for their lives and their country, feeling capable and empowered to do it for themselves.
Katherine Agranovich, Ph.D., is a Medical Hypnotherapist and Holistic Consultant. She is the author of Tales of My Large, Loud, Spiritual Family. Call her for an office or phone consultation to attain mental-emotional alignment and close the gap between where you are and where you want to be.