Loneliness in Time: Physicist Freeman Dyson on Immigration and How Severing Our Connection to the Past Shallows Our Present and Hollows Our History


Loneliness in Time: Physicist Freeman Dyson on Immigration and How Severing Our Connection to the Past Shallows Our Present and Hollows Our History

What a disorienting feeling to wake up one hot early-August morning and realize that exactly fifteen early-August mornings earlier, I had awakened to face my first day on American soil, having arrived alone as a teenage immigrant from Eastern Europe with $800 my parents had cobbled together to last me a year. I thought about how my life might have turned out if immigration policies and attitudes were then what they are now, and about the generations of immigrants who have devoted their lives to making this country what it is. I thought about the great physicist and inventor Michael Pupin, after whom the physics building at Columbia University is named, reflecting on his own improbable path from immigrant to inventor after arriving in America as a penniless teenage boy from Serbia, born across the border from my native Bulgaria. I thought about James Baldwin and Margaret Mead challenging the problematic nature of the melting pot metaphor and Hannah Arendt contemplating the many layers of the immigrant plight for identity. I thought about Alfred Kazin’s bittersweet meditation on the loneliness of the immigrant experience.

It seems to me that in a country so fundamentally shaped by immigrants, a societal sentiment so suddenly unwelcoming to them can only be the product of an…

Marcela
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Marcela

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COO @oneqube | Angel Investor | Proud mom | Advisor @TheTutuProject | Let's Go #NYRangers
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