Illegal Immigrants and Crime

Here in Arizona one of the big stories this week was when an off duty police officer was hit head on and killed by a drunk man driving the wrong way on a highway in Phoenix. The man who was driving the wrong way was an illegal immigrant, who had been convicted of crimes here previously and likely would still have been incarcerated if he had been a citizen.

 

It is being reported that about 36,000 illegal immigrants have been released during 2013. Many of these were released as a way of making the sequester more painful, that is as political gamesmanship to try and make opponents look foolish. This included individuals who had been convicted of about every type of crime imaginable.

 

Here in Arizona it has been a relatively common event to hear news of crimes committed by illegal immigrants. Sometimes that would happen because the person was deported after committing a crime, but they simply re-crossed into the US. Other times people entered the country specifically for the purpose of committing crimes. But this final case of illegal immigrants being released because they are some kind of political pawn is most frustrating.

 

Part of the problem is we don’t know how to handle illegal immigrants anymore. The public information has been to sympathize with them, especially those who have become multi-generational. Consequently enforcement of immigration law now causes a person to be painted as a racist. So law is unenforced, people tiptoe around the issue, and now you even get out of jail free.

 

Our political and legal environment is getting to be so convoluted I wonder if the day will come that instead of immigrants applying to become citizens, citizens will seek to become immigrants in order to gain the privileges of that class.

Learning to See

The next episode for Jamison’s Battlefields. Here are the previous episodes in order. Like any story you will get the most out of it by reading it in sequence.

The first battlefield was The Battle for the Mind.  Zilkas Asteroid Belt, Jamison’s Rescue,  Dinner with an Alien, Dibolocos Attack, Departure Orders, Homecoming, Into the Darkness, The Family BusinessJewel’s Place, ShanghaiedFirst MarkThe Pirate’s Life, Defensive Position, Adrift, Self Sacrifice, Crash DownThe Lake HouseDancing with Egopods, Lunch with Aliens and Kilkian Alignment

The second battlefield is The Battle of the Hands. What follows is the first episode of this battle.

 

The next day they had a quick breakfast together. Colofen left early, while Colofer stayed behind and gave them instructions. They were to prepare themselves carefully for a day in the forest. They should dress, equip themselves and arm themselves just as if they would be in the woods without the assistance of the Kilkians. In the future, they were instructed, they should always be careful to stay ready and prepared for their day. Any point of carelessness would likely be noticed by the Dibolocos.

So they put on their travel gear, checked batteries in their scanners and weapons, and moved out to the countryside. Colofer lead the two around the lake, up a slight rise and into a meadow. It was a spot they had not seen before and it was very pleasant. Wildflowers scented the air, the sun warmed them and a gentle breeze cooled them. With the break in the trees they were able to see the mountains rising up on the one side, with much of the valley falling off in the other direction.

When they reached the middle of the meadow, she stopped them and asked, “Are you enjoying the day?”

“Yes, actually, it’s a beautiful day. The wildflowers across this meadow are gorgeous.” Chamber’s eyes lit up, as she did a light-hearted spin. Jamison enjoyed watching her as she lost herself in the moment.

“Are you still alert to possible dangers, or have these enjoyments distracted you?”

Something about the question spurred at Jamison, making him scan the grassy ground, tree line and sky.

Chambers laughed, “I am enjoying the day, but I am still paying attention.”

“You walked within 50 feet of an egopod on the way here. It saw you, did you see it?”

Chambers paled slightly and became much more focused.

Colofer continued, “In your training we want to help you to learn how to always recognize dangers of any form. You will have the ability to sense certain things, even if you cannot see them. One of our primary goals is to train you to know by this perception, when a Kilkian is nearby, when a person is truly aligned with the Kilkian King, when a Dibolocos is nearby and when a person is passively or actively aligned with the Dibolocos.”

“Actively or passively?” Jamison asked.

“A person who has intentionally aligned themselves with the Dibolocos as an act of will is actively aligned. A person who has never made a choice to align with the Dibolocos but has also not aligned with the Kilkian King is passively aligned with the Dibolocos. A person who is passively aligned is controlled and manipulated by the Dibolocos almost as easily as someone who is actively aligned.”

Jamison thought of how he had played into the hands of Lobokidos. He was easily subdued and forced to do things he hated, and would regret for the rest of his life. Looking back over his time as a pirate he found it easy to see where he was under Dibolocos control. Even when he was on ship with Colofer, after his rescue, his decisions did not feel like they were entirely his own.

“Once you have raised your perceptions to be able to handle these tasks we will train you to also sense any other danger such as the egopod watching us from the forest edge.”

Hearing the egopod was that close put Jamison on edge, and he was nervously scanning the tree line, but had not seen the creature. He pulled out his weapon and double checked the setting to be sure it was turned to the setting he wanted, the one that would create a small explosion.

“Don’t kill it. He will not attempt to harm us. Later when we get to the more advanced training we will make use of his inquisitive nature to help in your training. But let’s start with easier lessons first.”

“First lesson is to be able to detect when a Kilkian is nearby. And of course I am right here beside you. But Colofen is also nearby, who can tell me where he is first?”

Jamison began straining his eyes at the trees all the more closely, watching for a flash of blue. And attempting to win the contest with Chambers. After a few minutes he was still clueless so he began trying other things like listening or smelling the air. As he tried all of these techniques he made larger and larger concentric circles in the grass. Eventually feeling like he was wasting his time, he noticed both Chambers and Colofer were watching him.

“Chambers found him first.” Colofer explained, “He is right here. With that announcement Colofen materialized alongside Chambers.

“You guys can be invisible?” The realization struck Jamison with surprise. He felt a little bit like the two aliens had been cheating. But since Chambers had found Colofen, apparently it was possible, although he didn’t understand how.

“Jamison, there are two reasons you did not find him, despite having walked within inches of him at one point. First you only tried to perceive him through the five senses of humanity, these senses are not the way that we wish to train you to perceive us. The second reason is your emotional state was clouded while you were trying. First it was your competitive nature trying to win a contest, after that it was a fear you would fail. Fear and pride will block your perception, dulling your ability to feel. It is important to be a person of courage to master these emotions.”

Colofen disappeared again, and Colofer instructed them to try again. Jamison watched dumbfounded as Chambers walked straight to the new spot. He had no idea. They tried this exercise several times over, with Chambers instructed to not reveal the location, Colofer would know by reading her thoughts. But the repetitious exercise felt like an exercise in futility to Jamison.

After a while Colofer had Chambers and Colofen move on to the next level of training and they headed off together to higher slopes on the mountain. This left Colofer and Jamison to continue working in the meadow, trying to get Jamison to make his first find. Jamison had begun to think they were all pulling a practical joke on him.

“The reason you have not found me is you cannot read your own emotions. You were trained as a sniper to suppress them. This is useful in some ways, but in addition to maintaining emotional control, I want to teach you to perceive and understand your emotions as they arise. Once you can read your emotions you will be able to learn which ones come from some aspect of your alignment with our king. Sometimes it will be the presence of a friend, sometimes the presence of an enemy or a danger. Other times it will be the king asking you to take on a specific task.

“For now I am going to ask you to clear your mind, close your eyes and think of nothing but your feelings. Meanwhile I will transport myself into and out of a spot right beside you. You will feel a change in your feelings when I pop in or out. Think to yourself here or gone whichever you think I am at the moment and this will be your first step to knowing how to read your emotions.”

Jamison did as he was told and tried to focus on perceiving the changes. But he perceived nothing and began to get frustrated again. Remembering her warning that negative emotions would block his ability, he worked to calm the feeling and when he did he felt something change. Then change again. “Is that it?” he thought.

“Yes that is it.” Colofer answered into his mind.

It came again and he thought, “Here”

“Very good”

“Gone”

“Yes, I just left.”

Jamison worked hard to tune in to the change of feeling. And with several repetitions it became easier to perceive. Then suddenly it hit home so strongly that he was tempted to step backwards like you would do if someone had walked up into your personal space. This was the first time he had been able to perceive a general direction and distance. They continued the exercises till midday and then returned to the lake house.

Jamison and Chambers talked about what they had accomplished. While Jamison was able to perceive Colofer or Colofen from about ten feet away, Chambers was already able to perceive both of them at the same time in different places from several miles away. Her perception of Kilkian presence was already close to maxing out.

Foundations of Moral Responsibility

I suspect when God said He would make man in His own image, part of what that meant was—He was making man to think for himself. This happens to be one of those ideas that cannot be verified by pointing directly to a Scripture which clarifies the point. Probably the closest thing which comes to mind is in Isaiah 1:18 where God says through the prophet, come let us reason together.

In my mind this means He had already intentionally made us intelligent. He gave us reason and expected us to use that reason in responsible ways. This is relevant because in order for our actions to be fairly judged they have to be of our own choices, formed by our own decision making processes.

In this way intelligence is the beginning point of personhood, but also the foundation of moral responsibility.

Common Merganser

Common Merganser

This is a common merganser. Mergansers are a type of diving duck. They are perhaps the most skilled fish catchers in the duck world. They are born with this skill and will do all their own hunting, from the point the chicks hatch through adulthood. When they are very young they will be catching aquatic insects and minnows. As adults they will move up to exclusively dining on small fish.

In order to be this skilled at fishing they have to have some specialized abilities and tools. Among them is being very strong swimmers underwater. But they also are specially equipped to hang on to the fish after they catch it. In this picture you cannot tell, but mergansers have sharp serrated edges to their bills. The bill looks a little bit like little saw blades, but each of those points are able to dig into the fish and keep it steady. This allows them to grip the slippery fish without any possibility of losing them.

Sometimes having a good solid grip is critical for people too. For Christians it is essential to have a grip on sound doctrine. A surprising number of people will spend their whole life drifting left and right in what they believe based upon who last influenced them. Of course, the goal should be to learn and accept the truth of Christ, not to adapt to the beliefs of those around you. Yet we such social creatures we are always likely to be influenced by others.

The solution the merganser uses might be useful here too. I believe people need anchor points. Certain key beliefs should be settled in their hearts and minds. These fundamental issues will serve as anchors to their belief system. The believer will recognize falsehood when it disagrees with one of these anchor points. Some of my anchor points include the inspiration of Scripture, the virgin birth, Jesus is eternally deity, Jesus took on humanity, the crucifixion and more. There are a lot of others. The more anchor points you have the steadier your faith will be.

2 Timothy 1:12 (HCSB) says But I am not ashamed, because I know the One I have believed in and am persuaded that He is able to guard what has been entrusted to me until that day.

Clemency for Crack

President Obama is working with Eric Holder to grant clemency to a number of individuals convicted of drug offenses, that they feel were unfair and racially biased. In some cases they report the penalty for crack cocaine was many times that of regular cocaine and the people sentenced were predominantly black.

The plan is to give a blanket presidential pardon to those individuals who they believe were over-sentenced. The idea has not been implemented, since the details are being hashed out. The suggestion is to extend the pardon to those who have served at least ten years of their sentence and who have had no gang connections. No one is certain how many people will be released if it is enacted.

I have a couple problems with this plan. It is racially motivated micromanagement. These two government officials have scanned American history and policy for racial inequalities. The problem with reverse engineering this way is it overlooks the historic reasons for the legislation. Lawmakers and society as a whole were desperate to stem the tide on crack and the outrageous amount of violence that came with it. This was the reason the penalties were significantly more severe than for regular cocaine.

This is the activity we ask governments to undertake. We ask them to make a positive difference in the face overwhelming evil. We need them to take on monsters through the corporate strength of society which individuals are too weak to oppose. Overlooking this history, and in fact, the whole movement towards legalizing drugs, is the result of failing to learn the lessons of the past and setting ourselves up to relive them.

Family

I believe the family is a structure designed by God. Within the family, God intended one man and one women to make a lifetime commitment to one another. These two may become parents and then have the sacred responsibility of raising their children.

Now that I have made the basic statement let me elaborate on it a bit at a time.

God designed the family just as He designed everything else which exists. He has intentions on how the family is supposed to work, and for humans to give the definition of family a makeover is sin. He has the right to be Lord over the family as He has the right to be Lord over all of Creation. This includes bringing judgment at His discretion.

Marriage, the relationship which begins a new family is designed by God and His intentions for it are for one man to be married to one woman. I fully understand the Scriptures include many cases of polygamy. (They also have cases of murder, rape, incest and other deplorable actions we would not endorse.) I believe the nature of people indicates we are intended to have one other marital partner of the opposite gender. We are designed in such a way to desire such an exclusive relationship.

Parenthood is a part of most families and should be taken on as a responsibility to God, society and the children themselves. The possibility of creating children in situations which are not conducive to the child’s welfare, is one of the main reasons sexual relationships outside of marriage are sin. Children exposed to the wrong things too early, especially sexuality, will be adversely affected by that loss of innocence, and parents should take protecting their children from this loss of innocence as a personal responsibility. Children who are not disciplined in regard to their behavior will also face challenges which may well limit their potential for the rest of their lives. These kids often become adults who harm society and cannot understand the need to be in submission to any authority, earthly or eternal.

Female Yellow-headed Blackbird

Yellow Head Female

This is a female, yellow-headed blackbird. They are seen considerably less often than male birds because their habits are almost opposite. The male will sit on top of the cattails and call out. They puff themselves up to show off their colors. And will vigorously defend their territory against intruders.

But the female will stay hidden down lower in the vegetation. They are pretty much only seen when dashing out to grab some slime or floating plant from the surface of the water. This is taken back inside the reeds where she will build it into a nest, built around several strong shafts, and suspended above the water.

The male makes sure everyone sees him while doing basically nothing, but the female prefers seclusion and carries on the tasks of nest building. Given the two different personalities, which are you and which should you be. For the blackbirds both are necessary. The male creates the nesting territory, the female builds the nest, raising and hiding the young. Within humanity the role of defending a territory from others is not needed, but the quiet, industrious, and humble work of the female fits what both men and women need to be in the kingdom of God.

When I use the word humble, I am referring to the way the female blackbird makes its entire life about others. She does not puff herself up. She does not seek to be the center of attention. Instead of spending her energy on herself, everything she does is for others.

This behavior is not only beneficial to humanity, it is Christ-like. Perhaps it is the greatest development of character a Christian should strive for as they mature. In Philippians 2:3 (HCSB) “Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.