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Friday, April 29, 2011

"Today you, tomorrow me"

Here's a thought-provoking Oregon story that we missed when it first appeared last month.

Comments (26)

Is there more to this story? Yes, I believe immigrants are sometimes Good Samaritans (it was an Ethiopian or Eritrean who helped me in Italy.) But the story is so neat, so perfect and completely pans non-immigrants. Maybe it's all true. But the guy has a degree in art history and lives in so-correct and liberal Portland...

So maybe we should just smash his head in with that tire iron and get on with the business of driving all those GD Mexicans out of Oregon...As the author said, and as the tone of your post proves, this country is going to hell in a hand basket. God help us.

I'm a changed man. Open borders now.

Thanks Jack.

It's not just "immigrants" it is rather wide spread in indigenous cultures, like here among in North America. They bring the idea that to give a gift is to give of themselves where we Americans feel that it's favor that must be returned instantly, to balance the books so to speak, robbing the giver of the joy of giving with no expectations. I saw that played out once at a wedding between a Crow woman and a white man. Fortunately, the larger idea carried the day.

It's because they're not afraid of someone suing them.
Too many laws.

How about because it really is all about "today you, tomorrow me"? What happened to our sense of community, and doing what's right without thinking "what's in it for me.?" Helping our fellow man. Helping each-other. I hope it doesn't take a natural disaster, as is currently being dealt with in our countries midsection, for you to realize that all we really have is each-other. Wow. You must feel so proud.

Imagine if we had even a few politicians who also followed the credo of "today you, tomorrow me" instead of "how much money/favors can you stuff in my pockets"?

"Today you, tomorrow me," is Mexican for "Pay it forward."

umpire:Imagine if we had even a few politicians who also followed the credo of "today you, tomorrow me" instead of "how much money/favors can you stuff in my pockets"?

Good comment.
Why are we in so much trouble across our America?? Congress helping the people??
Even on local level, politicians play the debt game well and for whose benefit??

Tom - if you're referring to my post, I of course agree with you, but rather than 'what's in it for me?' ultimately, many are correct to think 'How is this person going to take advantage of me with full backing of some ambulance chasing lawyer?'

They still have religion in some of those countries that bring us immigrants. Religion at its worst may lead to all of our final destruction as a species, (or maybe just back to the seventh century), but along the way, it has also steadily influenced people to be kind to strangers.
(And some, but not all, religions even advise us not to kill one another.)

Speaking of kindness to strangers, please think a good thought for the dying hero/ saint of our secular sphere, Christopher Hitchens.


I agree with most of the other posters... though not really too surprising here in western oregon, this story basically puts us to shame.

This article reminds me how very dangerous is to generalize about an entire group of people.
Some Mexicans and some whites are good people, some are bad.

and how as a community do we change this? By acknowledging that it exists and it is what it is? How's that working for 'ya/us?

In my trips to backwater areas of Mexico, I have witnessed the kindness of the Mexican people on such a grand scale, it simply amazes me. Here, people rarely look you in the eye and say hello as they pass by on the street.

They weren't immigrants--they were migrant workers up to pick fruit for a few weeks. Even the author got it wrong; apparently, he doesn't know the difference between immigrating and traveling for work.

And the prosaic, overwrought language of the story, to me, overshadows the good samaritan story. If he tried to club me over the head with the "they were Mexican!" message any harder, I'd be unconscious. It's fairly clear that the author wasn't attempting to relate an honest story--he had a Message To Deliver. It puts me off, and makes me doubt the story a little (and the pretty dialogue).

The world's full of good people helping other people every day. I've helped people b the side of the road change flats. It's always nice to hear such stories, but spare me the hand-wringing morality play.

In my trips to backwater areas of Mexico, I have witnessed the kindness of the Mexican people on such a grand scale, it simply amazes me. Here, people rarely look you in the eye and say hello as they pass by on the street.

I've experienced the same kindness on the streets of Portland, and have people look me in the eye every day. I've also witnessed violence, wife abuse, knife-wielding guys yelling at each other, and people passing broke-down trucks on the highway--firsthand--in Mexico.

Why not instead treat the story as what it was--a story of a few people-- instead of trying to make it a Greek drama about nations and cultures?

Boy, what a bunch of cynics frequent the comments section! This kind of story is not "news" - it happens every single day and just never makes the papers because the beneficiary doesn't style him or herself as some kind of writer. I would strongly encourage the posters to get involved with a local non-government non-profit if they want to see how much real "giving of oneself" and kindness is going on right here in Oregon.

This story is exactly typical of my experience with Mexicans in general. They are kind and hardworking and generous in both material and spiritual ways. Every time I hear some tighty-righty spewing about how it is illegal aliens rather than plutocrats pushing US into the economic mud, it is these kind people that I think of. We should be monstrously ashamed of our treatment of them.

I see Mexicans on the bus every day. They are wonderful parents and their children are impeccably groomed. I compare that to the stories of abuse in the media, that poor child found weighing 28 pounds at the age of 5? Children being burned to death? No it is not good to generalize based on one classification, but it is not good to demonize based on one classification either. People are people folks but what you have to understand with the Mexicans is they just want to do the very best for their kids. I don't mind helping as long as they have a way to pay some taxes in return. And this country really sucks at figuring that one out.

I believe it is illegal for a tow truck to stop to help (that's what I was told when I used to drive one). The assumption being that a tow has been called and if one just happens by and stops to help, it is assumed they are trying to poach the call.

Of course, all this assuming is on the part of the legislature who wrote the law...the same one's you all run to for help when you illegally park and get towed.....

Offering help is giving a gift. In a marketplace culture, we don't give gifts, we exchange them. It's the capitalist way. Not completing the exchange generates cognitive dissonance.

I'll add my two cents. I am, as my screen name implies, from Canada. I've lived in Portland for almost 15 years nownwith my American wife. I'm often asked what the differences between Canadians and Americans are. Honestly there's not many. We share the same language, continent, entertainment, the obvious right? But my mum seemed to hit the nail on the head with this quote. "Americans want what benefits them personally, Canadians want what benefits society as a whole." After being here 15 years I can say that's true. Americans (generally speaking) are selfish.

No it is not good to generalize based on one classification

...what you have to understand with the Mexicans is they just want to do the very best for their kids.

This is what I mean. People want so badly to identify traits with races and ethnicities and nationalities; they'll often result to contortions like yours to do it, often not even realizing they do it.

I don't believe that any race, nationality or ethnicity uniformly wants "to do the very best for their kids". The news is full of parents--in every location in the world--who obviously don't. It's a fantasy amongst humans that we all want the same things, value the same things in the smae way, and strive for the same goals, but it's not true. Do we have a general set of universal values that we often aim for? Yes. Do we all agree what they are all the time? No.

I'd apply this to a related topic--the recent headlines pointing out that Portland is a very "white" city. The implication is, of course, that this is a deficiency of some sort, a condition that needs a remedy. Now, imagine the following headlines:

"Nairobi Too Black, says Census"
"Atlanta A Very Black City"
"Mexico City Residents Mostly Mexican, says Recent Survey"
"Stockholm A Very White City, Says Census"
"Turkish Outnumber Nigerians 500-1 in Turkey, says National Census"

And so on. We are so confused, so out of our minds trying to manufacture communities like Lego sets. We ignore the realities of what "diversity" really means--and yet nobody can agree exactly on what it means. We're at a loss as to how to enforce the very hierarchical, top-down "democracy" that nearly everyone seems to confuse with equality; we see that the country has *never* been one of equals, but instead one based on class, privilege, and power. Never mind the irony of Americans believing in a classless society but decrying Marxism.

Meanwhile, one of the richest men in the world is a Mexican. Some of the most vicious gang organizations are Mexican, and they are large, well-organized, and coming to your town. The poverty in many third world countries makes Mexico look like a resort state. Does this mean Mexicans are inherently good, or inherently evil? Commenters seem desperate to paint them as one or the other, when in fact neither is true. They're human, just like everybody else.

The part of the story where the guy talks about everyone passing on by without helping reminds me of why I keep my AAA Plus active and my cell phone fully charged and at the ready when I'm on the road. I have no illusions about any strangers helping me when I'm in a bind. As an aside, I have had the chance to work with several Mexican nationals, and this story does not surprise me in the least.

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