My staff will tell you I hate generalities. I do not believe in grouping and condemning people together because of a common heritage, political philosophy, religion, gender, sexual orientation or other commonality. Or height even.
I believe in the merits and uniqueness of individuals. I believe in judging people by their character, not the color of their skin, the God they believe in (or don’t), the party they belong to, whom they chose to love or the place they live.
I don’t believe in ad hominem attacks. Someone may say something I consider stupid, but that does not make him stupid. He has just expressed an ignorant expression, that is all. I believe ad hominem attacks only show the weakness of the attacker’s argument as the merits of his or her belief are not strong enough to stand on their own.
I believe all people are created equal in the eyes of God. I also believe that God reveals Godself to each of us in different ways, at different times and through different customs. We are all at different points in our journey of faith where there is no one right spot. Everyone’s relationship to God is his or her own, to be judged only by God.
I believe we are to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. I believe we are all God’s children. Those are the generalities I can accept.
I also believe and know there are many who do not believe as I do, and that is OK. It is OK as long as those people are willing to live in peace with their neighbors and are willing to deal with problems through peaceful means.
I also believe there is evil in this world that must always be confronted. I believe there is a use of violence that is just, but it should only be used when absolutely necessary.
I am the grandson of an immigrant for whom I am named. John James Lothian came to this country from Scotland following World War I, where he served in a trench in France during his 18th birthday. He would lose a brother in that war. My mother’s family came earlier, from Ireland and Germany.
My grandfather, whose name I proudly bear, later served as a factory foreman in Cleveland, working parts or all of three shifts a day helping to build bomb sights for B-24s. When the war ended, he had a nervous breakdown after the factory was shuttered and he was laid off. He died in a hospital from pneumonia, a casualty of war and of peace.
One of my dearest friends and colleagues, Jim Kharouf, is the son of immigrants from Germany and Palestine.
We are all immigrants in this nation of mine, even the Native Americans who arrived on this continent as its first peoples before the Western Europeans showed up. Our ancestors all came to this land of opportunity as immigrants, no matter if they were in first class or no class.
There is no sea or wall that can keep out those who seek freedom, peace, opportunity and are fleeing oppression and or violence.
There is not even any law that can keep out truly motivated people. They will only keep coming back. I know I would if I were in their position.
The United States of America is a great nation. It has its challenges, as it always has. But it has a history of overcoming them, and one of creating tremendous economic opportunities and attracting the best and the worst people alike.
The people who come to America are risk takers. They are the ones who leave home, and family if they have it, and travel far to a new life and a new start in a foreign land. It is that penchant for risk taking that has made America great.
It has been what has made Chicago great: immigrants and risk takers.