Anand Giridharadas said it better than I ever could during an interview with comedian Jon Stewart the other evening. Author of "India Calling: An Intimate Portrait Of A Nation's Remaking", Giridharadas said it is not so much that India is undercutting America economically as they are in spirit. It is the spirit of his parent's nation that has led him back to live there.
Giridharadas is not an immigrant, his parents are. They raised him in America and were proud to do so. Both he and his sister are successful in the computer industry with highly paid jobs in the field. But he has returned to India much to his parent's surprise. He has left this nation because he feels the spirit of America is fractured. It is that fractured spirit, he said, that is resulting in our economic demise.
I sense this broken spirit nationally and locally everywhere I go lately. People come from other cities to start businesses and they nearly get run out with pitchforks and torches. Suspicions abound. Divisions are getting more severe. There are the rich, the poor, the able bodied, the disabled, whites, those of other races, long time residents, new neighbors and we are all fighting. But what are we fighting for really? Why are we not pulling together? In these times why must we continually dig more trenches and stir up more division and strife? Why are we so afraid of one another? Everyone single one of us has a story. Those stories come from everywhere. The person with the frayed dirty coat and the several days of facial growth? He didn't end up on the street in any one particular way. Each person's story is different. Why do we assume he must be there because he is on drugs and doesn't want help? Why don't we ask him to tell us his story?
Why are we running our hispanic immigrants out of our city and down to a detention center on our own tideflats in Tacoma? In the late 1800s Tacoma did this to the Chinese. There were signs everywhere telling the Chinese to leave. Then we did it to the Japanese during World War II. We are doing it right here in Tacoma to hispanics. No one is beating us down with bombs right now, but they are beating us economically. Both Japan and China are spirited nations with a collective economic goal. As Giridharadas asserted the other night, it's not because the inhabitants of these nations are any smarter than us, it's that their spirits aren't broken. Ours are. It starts in our neighborhoods and spreads like a viral strain that cannot be stopped with antibiotics. I want to think it's going to stop. I want to think there is a cure. But when people like Giridharadas leave this nation and take his talent with him due to our ongoing and increasing fractures, I start to lose hope. -Alison Whiteman