If you're expecting this column to deal with the recent protests, you will be surprised. Protests are, indeed, being heard, but not always in a positive way. And certainly, the violence is deplorable.
Although immigration reform is at the base of these remarks, that's not the main point. I'll have to work up to that.
What would you think if you received a call from The White House, the one in Washington, D.C.?
You probably wouldn't be quite so surprised if you had written a letter to the President about the immigration issue. That happened to my great-nephew, Brett Duncan.
It was, happily, a complimentary call: Would Brett give permission for the President to quote from his letter during Mr. Obama's Tuesday night speech in Chicago?
Brett did, the President did, and the Office of the Press Secretary sent Brett a complete transcript of that event, even including interruptions from the audience. The paragraph below is copied directly from that transcript:
"As you can imagine, I've gotten a lot of letters and a lot of emails about immigration over the past few days. And some have said it was a mistake for me to act. But then others remind me why I had to. One letter I got last week came from Brett Duncan, of Dawsonville, Ga. And Brett is a Republican, and so he doesn't really agree with me about anything. (Laughter) Well, maybe everything. His ancestors came over from Scotland before the Civil War, so his immigration status is pretty much settled. (Laughter) But he's done missionary work overseas. He knows what it's like to be a stranger. And over the years he's gotten to know a lot of the new immigrants in his community. And here's what he said. He said: ‘Their children are as American as I am. It would be senseless to deport their parents. It would be bad for America. I believe,' Brett wrote, ‘that a human being, created in the very image of Almighty God, is the greatest resource we have in this country.' (Applause)."
One thing that makes Brett's comments even more special is that Brett and his wife, Trina, have actually brought an immigrant to Dawsonville. They made two trips to Ethiopia to accomplish the paperwork and legal arrangements to bring their adopted son, Yared, to join their three children in Dawsonville. Yared is an intelligent, outgoing lad, who has quickly become an integral part of his family and community.
Many of us think about writing letters, sending emails, or making phone calls to our elected officials -- local, state, national. But most of us do not take actions, believing that one opinion would not really be heard or heeded. Perhaps that feeling is especially true if the official is not from the same political party.
Depending upon the convictions of the official, your opinion may not always be heeded, but it will generally be heard or at least tallied. So any citizen should feel free to express that opinion -- not necessarily through public protests, however.
On the subject of elected officials, may I congratulate State Senator Steve Gooch on his recent election as Senate Majority Whip. I can assure you that he does listen, even to me when I don't agree. Who knows, it may be possible to cause someone to change positions.
One can always try.
Helen Taylor's column appears periodically in the Dawson Community News.