By Carlos Batara / OB Rag
As the new year dawns, most of us need to reflect where we’re headed, individually and collectively.
Unfortunately, far too many of those active in immigration circles are caught in the “feel sorry for myself” moment. With a new president, one who has articulated strong law enforcement measures, about to take office, the “doom and gloom” sentiments of immigrants and their advocates are deafening.
Yet, stop for a moment and reflect back to 2009 and 2013. What has really changed in immigration law since that time? In the majority of cases, my office helps immigrants under the same rules that existed back then.
I have not written much in the past two months. I do not want to presume that I know the new president’s initial moves. In all likelihood, even after he is sworn in, I’ll be assisting folks with the same laws. So why panic? It’s far better to plan ahead.
For those with serious criminal convictions, well, all bets are off. But I suspect those who follow our newsletter and blog don’t fall into this category.
Anyway, on a more positive note, I was reading a post from one of my favorite bloggers, Jon Morrow. He is not an immigration blogger. He has made millions with his writings.
Yet, he can only move his eyes and lips. His hands, feet, arms, and legs are almost totally paralyzed. He uses voice recognition technology.
In late December, he wrote a piece, “7 Life Lessons from a Guy Who Can’t Move Anything but His Face.”
The article is well worth reading by all, especially for those immigrants and their advocates who fell the sky is suddenly falling. Here is a brief summary of some of Morrow’s main points:
Lesson 1: If You Can’t Win The Game, Change The Rules
The options to you right now may be hopeless, but you can always create new ones.
It’s not easy, but if you’re strong enough, you can turn any situation to your advantage.
Lesson 2: Pain Is Power
At some point or another, life punches everyone in the face.
The punch may be hard, or it may be soft, but it’s definitely coming, and your success or failure is largely determined by the answer to a single question: how well can you take the punch?
Do you roll around on the ground, weeping and moaning? Do you rock back on your heels but then keep going?
Lesson #3: The Secret To Survival
The people who struggle most are the ones who can’t accept the incessant unfairness of life. They become so consumed with what should have happened, the way other people should have behaved that they become incapable of dealing with reality.
A lot of people view acceptance as weakness. They think that, if they accept what’s happened to them, they’ll be admitting defeat.
But it’s the opposite. It’s only by acknowledging reality that you can create a plan to change that reality. Acceptance, as it turns out, is the first step to victory.
Lesson 4: The Art Of The Counterpunch
In life, every difficulty carries with it a corresponding opportunity of equal size.
No matter how bad the situation, no matter how hopeless it seems, there is always an opportunity to turn it to your advantage. You just have to discipline yourself to spot the opening, and then find the courage to use it.
Lesson 5: How To Find The Courage To Face Anything
The people we think of as heroes don’t have a mystical ability to transcend fear. To them, the alternative to taking action is simply unacceptable. They do what needs to be done, not because they want to, but because they feel there is no other choice.
Lesson 6: Embrace The Crazy
We’re so used to evaluating options on their own merits that we become paralyzed in situations where all the options are bad.
The solution is to train yourself to at least acknowledge the crazy alternatives. Whenever you’re making a decision, ask yourself, “What are the options I’m not considering because they seem too crazy?” You don’t have to choose the crazy option, but you should still train yourself to recognize it, because there might come a day when you need it.
Lesson 7: Never, Never, Never Give Up
Sooner or later, we all reach a point in life where our trials become unbearable. Determination turns to despair, self-confidence becomes self-pity, and our hope for a better tomorrow dwindles and dies, replaced by a grim certainty that our life is over.
But it’s not. We simply need someone to remind us that triumph over adversity isn’t about being the strongest or the smartest, the “perfect” human being who can overcome anything life throws at them. On the contrary, the greatest victories are won by the weakest people, living in the darkest times, facing monsters that make even the stoutest heroes cower and run.
And yet they prevail. Not through riches or genius or even luck, but by setting their jaw, bracing their feet, and weathering the storm. They don’t defeat misfortune; they outlast it, clinging stubbornly to their spot, absorbing blow after blow, roaring their defiance into the wind until their lips crack and their voice breaks, and yet still they find the strength to whisper, “I will never, ever give up.”
You can be one of those people. I know you can, and so I came here to tell you…
Today, you might feel too poor or sick or unlucky to reach for your dreams, but you’re not.
Today, you might feel too tired or depressed or sad to even try, but you’re not.
Today, you might feel like an outcast, forgotten by your friends or family or anyone who might help you, but again, you are not.
You’re still breathing, my friend. That’s all it takes to stage a comeback.
So, say it with me now, would you?
“I will never, ever give up.”
Say it. Believe it.
And then recognize you’ve begun the journey to becoming totally unstoppable.