Etymology: Greek καιρός right or proper time.
Fullness of time; the propitious moment for the performance of an action or the coming into being of a new state.
As I was watching the Republican debate the other night, there was a moment that one could call a kairos in reference to the issue of "immigration reform". That moment came when news anchorman and journalist José Díaz-Balart (of the Spanish-language network "Telemundo") spoke to all the candidates. He started with this: I want to talk about a subject that was very dear to the heart of President Reagan, which is immigration reform. As you know, he was the last U.S. President to sign immigration reform in 1986. All of you, I think, have said that you don't think immigration reform should be discussed until the border is secure.
After saying this, he asked Governor Perry what specifically, in your mind, would make the border secure? Perry's response started with: Well, the first thing you need to do is have boots on the ground. After developing this idea he added the use of the "predator drones", having a federal goverment that will commit to having those 'boots on the ground' and the aviation assets in the air and finally attacking President Obama's statements on the current security of the border.
When Díaz-Balart asked former Governor Romney for his opinion, Romney said we got to have a fence, or the technologically approved system to make sure that we know who's coming into the country, number one. His second point was a variation of what Perry said before: we ought to have enough agents to secure that fence and to make sure that people are coming over are caught. His third point was different from Perry: he talked about getting rid of the "magnet", how Border Patrol agents told him that the reason they come in such great numbers is because we've left the magnet on. To him this "magnet" includes sanctuary cities, giving tuition breaks to the kids of illegal aliens, employers that, employers that knowingly hire people who are here illegally. Those things also have to be stopped.
(Note: We shall skip Newt Gingrich's comments for now)
Former senator Rick Santorum (speaking as the son of an Italian immigrant) gave his point of view of what immigration means to him as one of the great things that has made this country the dynamic country that it continues to be, people who are drawn because of the ideals of this country. He also added that we have to have a program in place that sets that parameter that says, you're going to come to this country, come here according to the rules. It's a very good first step that the first thing you do here is a legal act, not an illegal act.
Representative Michelle Bachmann gave her own take on the points already discussed in the context and the problem that we're dealing with in relation to the "narco terrorists" in Mexico and (following Perry and Romney) we should have border or a fence. Failure to do this would be, in effect, to yield United States sovereignty not only to our nation anymore, but to yield it to another nation. That we cannot do. She added comments about a visit to the Bay of Pigs Museum and talking to Cuban Americans. I met with a number of people, and it's very interesting. The Hispanic-American community wants us to stop giving taxpayer- subsidized benefits to illegal aliens and benefits, and they want us to stop giving taxpayer-subsidized benefits to their children as well.
Then she was asked: The fence is built, the border is under control. What do you do with 11.5 million people who are here without documents and with U.S.- born children? None of the candidates before said anything specific about this, and to me this was one of the most important questions asked on this issue and it gave Bachmann the chance to be the first to address it. This was her response: Well, that's right. And again, it is sequential, and it depends upon where they live, how long they have been here, if they have a criminal record. All of those things have to be taken into place. She also said that in the past when our immigration law worked beautifully people had to demonstrate that they had money in their pocket, they had no contagious diseases, they weren't a felon. They had to agree to learn to speak the English language, they had to learn American history and the Constitution. And the one thing they had to promise is that they would not become a burden on the American taxpayer. That's what we have to enforce.
Herman Cain's response was: Let's make sure -- let's solve all of the problems. It's not one problem. He still agreed with the others before him that first we've got to secure the border. Second for him was to promote the path to citizenship that's already there. We don't need a new one, we just need to clean up the bureaucracy that's slowing the process down and discouraging people. Third, enforce the laws that are there, and the way we do it, empower the states.
(Note: We shall also skip Governor Huntsman comments for now)
Representative Ron Paul said that we need to remove the incentive -- easy road to citizenship. Nobody has mentioned the fact that they qualify for benefits as well, you know, the welfare benefits. We shouldn't have to give -- the state of Texas shouldn't be forced to provide free health care and free education. He added that sure, we can secure the borders -- a barbed-wire fence with machine guns, that would do the trick. I don't believe that's what America is all about. I just really don't. He also added that every time you think of fence keeping all those bad people out, think about those fences maybe being used against us, keeping us in.
Since that night, I have been thinking, meditating, praying, and reflecting about what the candidates said. My initial reaction to all of this (my Facebook status yesterday morning) was that I was extremely disappointed at the way Republican candidates "answered" the questions regarding immigration reform. Saying 'secure the border first', or 'we need more boots on the ground', and that we should not 'yield United States sovereignty' are (at best) part of ONE piece in this puzzle. But, it is not the ONLY piece, and it does not have to be the ONE piece you must use FIRST.
But later I asked myself: why? Why do I feel this way? Why do I feel "extremely disappointed"? Why do I think that the candidates (except from some of the answers offered by Huntsman and Gingrich) did not answer in the way 'I' wanted them to answer? Why was I angry when I heard the responses listed above? Why was it that the anger I felt then later changed to sadness? What was it about what Huntsman and Gingrich said that gave me some hope? And what does any of this have to do with kairos?
In Part 2 of this entry I will try to answer these difficult questions.