Discover more from Random Minds by Katherine Brodsky
The responsibilities of an immigrant
Recently, I’ve posted on the platform formerly known as Twitter about whether people were in favor of those not born in the U.S. being eligible to run for President. Overwhelmingly, the answers reflected a sentiment of distrust towards those who were not born on U.S. soil—that their interests may not align with those of America. I have to admit, I was a bit sad to read that because it meant that in their eyes, an immigrant would never be viewed quite as an equal.
In Canada, where I moved around age 12, the policy is different. I am eligible to run for Prime Minister. And there’s something about that that’s significant. For a child who has spent most of their life in this country to know that they are no different from another who was born here, and that the two have an equal right to run for office—even if neither ever will—there’s something truly meaningful about that.
I believe that when a country gives an immigrant a full citizenship, it also provides that equality. It has the right to make that pathway as difficult as necessary, but once it provides it—those rights should be equal or one will always feel like a second class citizen.
In exchange though, I believe that the immigrant also has responsibilities in front of the country that they’ve chosen to call their new home. Although immigrants bring with them the richness of their own culture—an important contribution—they should also strive to adapt to their new one.
This means that they should try to learn, the best they can, the language of their new country so that they can communicate with their new community, foster relationships, and understand what’s happening around them. This will allow them to participate in their new society and become productive members, instead of residing in isolation.
They should also make an effort to learn about the culture and customs of where they live. Although they are welcome to practice their own, especially in their private spaces, when there is a friction between their customs and their new culture’s, given that they’ve chosen to move to their new home, I believe that it is their responsibility to respect its rules and traditions.
Of course, things aren’t always easy and I’ve witnessed first-hand how difficult it can be for immigrants to assimilate. Sometimes their accents and cultural particularities lead the locals to distance themselves and not greet them quite so warmly into their communities—leading minority groups to stick to other minority groups with whom they are more comfortable and share a common tongue. From the outside, they may appear standoffish, but it’s not entirely their fault. Still, others don’t always make sufficient effort when they don’t have to. I’ve witnessed that too.
I think we can all stand to meet each other with more curiosity and openness.
As someone who has immigrated twice to vastly different regions of the world, with some smaller moves in between, I can’t help but wonder what my life would have turned out like had I stayed in either of these countries. Would my life have been entirely different? What would my path be? Would I be a completely different person? I suppose I’ll never really know for sure.
But even if I criticize my home from time to time (or often), I still consider myself part of it. In fact, I criticize it because I want to improve it. Because I see it as my responsibility as an immigrant, a citizen, to be an active part of its community and well-being. This is my role and duty.
And even if I’ll never run for Prime Minister, I’m glad to live in a country that values me enough as an equal to let me.
☕️ Please consider supporting my work by making a donation and buying me a coffee. Here’s how.
NOTE TO READERS:
Thank you for keeping me company. Although I try to make many posts public and available for free access, to ensure sustainability and future growth—if you can—please consider becoming a paid subscriber. In addition to supporting my work, it will also give you access to an archive of member-only posts. And if you’re already a paid subscriber, THANK YOU. Please also share, like, and comment. Got ideas for future posts? Email me.