A recent Catholic Stuff You Should Know podcast (I believe it was this one, but they are all worth listening to!) referenced the importance of the bond of marriage, the ultimate commitment of one's life to another. They beautifully express the benefits of such a commitment, in the face of the obvious "downsides" that many young people focus on. Only when one fully commits to something can he or she realize the fruits of its full development. Not until you walk through a door, by definition eliminating the other doors as options, can you experience the exhilaration, joy, and sometimes scariness of whatever awaits on the other side.
The U.S. immigration issue has been suddenly thrust into the limelight. It is not a new problem, but the manner in which we treat existing immigrants seems poised to fundamentally change. It is a matter of one person, President Obama, committing to a course of action and thereby forcing others to react, rather than keeping his options open. Robert Rubin would be appalled, which brings us to the subject at hand.
Important people, or at least people in positions of power and/or authority, often beget proteges. For better or for worse, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg (an extremely powerful and influential woman in her own right) was heavily influenced by her former boss Larry Summers, who was in turn influenced by former Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin.
Here is what Summers had to say about Rubin in a 1998 New York Times article:
“What so many people have a tendency to do is to lock into a scenario,” Summers says. “What Rubin will say, at times to the frustration of others, is that some questions don’t have answers – which is to say that just because a problem is terrible, we don’t have to act. It may not be the right time.”
Rubin believes that if you wait long enough, a better option will present itself. Perhaps many young men and women who are currently in relationships with the loves of their lives have the same thought in mind. Rubin did wait, in the example in the article, for a third option to the problem he faced, and he then acted on that third option. After which point, the crisis resolved.
To him, and to Summers, and to Sandberg, the lesson was and is, "wait, you don't have to act." But to me, the lesson is, "you must act if the situation is one that will not simply resolve itself; after all, the crisis was not averted until he acted, and there is no way to know that the course he eventually took was any better or worse than the others which were also available to him, while the problem continued to worsen until he acted."
It should be obvious that rushing blindly, headlong, uninformed, into a course of action is never advisable. To the contrary: make every effort to inform yourself of the causes of the problem and the available options to deal with it. Then, exert equal or greater effort on improvising possible alternatives. But recognize that waiting indefinitely, month after month, year after year, to resolve a purely political impasse that has real human consequences every day for millions of people is not a reasonable option.
President Obama, for all of his deplorable and despicable abortion support and dishonesty with the American people in regards to getting the Affordable Care Act passed in the manner in which it was, not to mention his co-leading role in the partisan chasm that has opened between the Executive and Legislative branches, has acted to force Congress to deal with the issue of how to treat the millions of illegal immigrants in America. Again, the manner in which he has done so is suspect. In this case, however, it does not appear that "waiting for another option" is viable, at least not when the lives of all of the families of these immigrants are at stake. To his credit, whether one agrees with him or not, he is a President that commits (and as a result, keeps no other options open). Sometimes, that is what is required. I believe this is one of those moments.