written by Allan J. Hamilton, MD, FACS

I’m supposed to write a column about wellness. Wellness describes a state of sustained health, harmony and wellbeing. But, I reserve the right to occasionally write about state of dis-ease. States of hurt, outrage, and of anger. And of the current upset that exists in my own home state.

I’m from Arizona. Yes, that state of discontent. As an individual citizen, I’m not proud of Arizona’s most recent legislation, SB 1070, making it against the law for an individual to be in my state if he or she is an illegal immigrant. I know it’s not a law aimed at stemming the tide of illegal Scandinavians streaming into the state. I worry about my fellow citizens of Hispanic origin, many of whose families have been here in America generations earlier than members of my own. But I also know my state is being overwhelmed by the flood of illegal immigration, human trafficking, and drug smuggling coming across our border with Mexico. But what I would like to hear is meaningful, heartfelt dialogue not inflammatory, partisan rhetoric.

First, there’s a big problem with immigration, folks. As one TV commentator said: ‘We seem to have two signs at the US-Mexico Border: “Help Wanted” and “No Trespassing.”‘ My state thrives on more than three hundred thousand illegal immigrant workers. They pick our crops. They clean our houses. And, they perform thousands of other dangerous, thankless jobs. And, as for the undocumented workers, they are exploited, endangered, and persecuted. Many of them have work ethics, family commmitments, and fierce loyalties to American values that would put many Arizonans to shame—or maybe make us envious to have them join our ranks and add to our collective national strength. Instead, we see unscrupulous employers take advantage of them to turn a buck. This doesn’t imply I endorse Mexican workers breaking into my state. It means I understand their plight, their struggle, and their aspirations. Ask yourself this: in what country do you think your dreams might have the greatest hope of coming true? The answer is always the same: our beloved America.

But, there’s also a terrible problem with safety and security in my state too. Recently, a respected Arizona rancher was found shot and killed near Douglas, AZ—the crime reportedly committed by one or more illegal immigrants passing through his property.

So, instead of sitting down and trying to hear both sides of these terrible, tragic, trans-border issues, we are driven closer to the abyss. We are polarized. Afraid. Boycotted. But no closer to real justice or safety.

And so one more set of human needs and rights gets parceled into sound bites. Politicians trying to jump onto whatever bandwagon seems to be most suited to swift re-election.

By the way, Arizona also recently passed a new tax by state referendum. In the midst of recession, unemployment, and the worst financial crisis our state has known, two thirds of my fellow residents and I voted to see our budget closer to getting balanced…to seeing the deficits reduced despite hard times. And, the revenues raised by these taxes must also be reserved for the support of public health, education and safety. Could it be that the citizenry is way head of its politicians? That it wants an end to left and right, liberal and conservative, or Democrat and Republican?

That’s the amazing things about democracy: sooner or later the people get a vote for common sense even if the legislatures and leaders can’t bring themselves to exercise it. Unfortunately, the truth is rarely black and white but inconveniently but unabashedly varied in complexion. Wellness is about honesty, balance, and moderation.

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