Libs should be tied to chairs and forced, to their shame, to watch this film about migrant workers

Tonight I watched The Last Train Home.

UK link HERE

Long-time readers here know that I keep an eye on Chinese films.  This is a documentary about the 130+ million migrant workers in China who strive to return home for the important New Year observance.

The issue is viewed through the lens of a single family.

I had to stop it a couple times.

Among other themes it tackles, as much of Chinese film does, intergenerational conflict, city v country, the disparity of rural and urban life in the face of modernization, the plight of migrant workers (as THIS and THIS), but in a far more naturalistic and grittier way.

It is a documentary.  The people are not actors.

Every liberal and critic of what they, in their ravings, call unfettered capitalism should be forced to sit and watch this movie, while being sprinkled with Holy Water, while we chant “shame… shame…” in their ears, because, effectively, the life these people live is what they advocate with their lunatic ravings about the only economic system that can bring masses up from poverty.  Tie them to a chair and let them rant about libertarians while watching this.  Then let them consider what can come of limited and channeled government involvement, as opposed to the State control they advocate.  (No one.. no one… wants unfettered capitalism in the way libs paint it.  Read: straw man.  They seem these days to call anyone who doesn’t want the state to redistribute wealth a “libertarian”.)

Okay… I’m ranting a bit to make a point.  Thus endeth the rant.

Econ aside, the intergenerational dimension of the movie will be familiar to anyone who has ever been born.  It is also interesting to see their faith and prayer efforts in the face of adversity. (Hint: not Christian, but welling up as a basic human reaction to stress, etc.)

In any event, even if you are not so interested in larger economic questions, you parents out there should show this to your bratty teenagers.

And watch it for yourselves and learn about family and sacrifice and aspirations for the future.


May I remind the readership that a migrant is a person who moves from point A to point B, while an immigrant is a person who moves from point A, that point being outside of a boundary, to point B, which is within the boundary.  The people in the film I am talking about are migrants.  They are migrating back home, within the borders of their nation.

They are not illegal immigrants from Mexico.   Okay?

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  1. Elizabeth D says:

    The immigration issue is not one-dimensional. We serve people who are here “illegally” in our parishes, schools, charitable works, etc. At least I do. It is a major problem if Catholics are antagonistic toward these people and their presence in our community. It is against the Gospel if we refuse to welcome them, it really is.

    I am shocked by the sudden unaccompanied children thing, are they runaways? did horrible parents send them to do this? is it arranged by the US government? What on earth? Keeping families together needs to be respected in whatever approach to immigration. Dads leaving the family in rural Mexico and coming to the US to work and send money home is also a problem, the wife and children need their father.

    I don’t agree with those who are categorically antagonistic to people migrating here, or welcoming these in our communities. On the other hand I find myself very untrusting of the Democrats and when Biden was reported to say something about the urgent need for an unrelenting large stream of immigrants the only thing I could think is they want to contracept and abort babies of American mothers and then they see a frantic need to replace them with immigrants. There is a massive pattern of disruption of stable, fruitful family life. That is what makes sense for Catholics to be concerned about. Welcome babies. Welcome the stranger.

  2. Ganganelli says:

    The Catholic president of Ecuador has transformed his country by following the economic teachings of Pope Leo XIII in Rerum Novarum(they’re calling it the Ecuador miracle). He made a point recently that “the market makes a great servant but a terrible master”. I wish more politicians would just listen to the Popes.

  3. frjim4321 says:

    …while we chant “shame… shame…” in their ears, …

    There may be some points here but generally I interpret shaming language and behavior as being gravely abusive.

    [You do realize that I am exaggerating to make a point, right?]

  4. Amateur Scholastic says:

    Large-scale captialism is no friend of the Faith. Yes, it may be (perhaps) quite good at generating material well-being, if we insist on taking the utilitarian approach of measuring this solely in terms of dollars per annum. But it also, by nature, spawns the sins of greed, envy and covetousness. (How else do you think mass advertising works?) It works by enticing people to buy things they don’t need, to put their identity into these things, and to devote time and energy to working to acquire more of them. What would happen to the advertising industry and GDP growth if everybody, everywhere, made a resolution to stop sinning against the Tenth Commandment?

    Capitalism also drags men, and increasingly women, out of the home and away from their families. Instead of being a centre of prayer and a school of holiness, the house becomes nothing more than a temporary place of rest for our exhausted bodies. Money becomes the purpose of life, and that around which society and family is built.

    It’s no coincidence that captialism sprang up in Protestant societies, where people needed something to replace the spiritual striving that the new religion had declared redundant, and where material prosperity was seen as an indication of spiritual ‘success’ and God’s favour. Nor is it a coincidence that almost all — perhaps all — truly Catholic cultures and societies in history have been agrarian.

    (Socialism is worse still, by the way, because it commands wickedness rather than merely tempts towards it, but ‘capitalism v socialism’ is a false dichotomy. Catholics should not be thinking in those simplistic terms. It’s not a question of what economic ‘system’ you have, but of what men lay their eyes and hearts on. Large-scale capitalism is what you get when men lay their eyes on material goods to the exclusion of the only true good, which is God.)

  5. pledbet424 says:

    frjim4321, I think you take the words said in jest too seriously.
    As for shaming language, Christ seemed to be more than willing use it when it suited his purpose. Mark chapter 7 comes to mind.
    Part of the problem we have in our society now is not enough shaming language.

  6. Magpie says:

    The big issue is immigration whether legal or illegal. It destroys the culture and economy of every country it touches. We should have respected the national sovereignty of countries and kept people in their own countries instead of shipping the problem elsewhere or allowing masses of people to come in to our countries and destroying our own and other peoples’ countries in the process. Britain is a classic example. And Ireland is coming along too on the multi-culturalism/diversity/tolerance agenda. To hell with the local indigenous people who can’t find work.

  7. Gerard Plourde says:

    I’ll start by admitting that I haven’t seen the film. [Which is actually an important point for this entry… since the film is about migrants within CHINA, not immigrants from MEXICO to these USA.]
    My concerns relate to the picture painted of the economic system currently in place in China and its relationship to conditions in the West. Since the death of Mao there has been a steady diminution of state ownership. The problem is that instead a form of crony capitalism (similar to that in Russia) combined with ownership of enterprises by the state, often China’s military, (60% of the 500 largest companies in China are still state owned) has taken hold. This system lacks the legal checks and balances that we now enjoy in the Western Democracies and much resembles the situation that existed here in the late 19th Century where workers are deemed expendable, are not paid living wages and are generally kept in poverty while those at the top amassed vast fortunes (both private individuals and Party members in the case of modern China). [However, those who are these days setting up “libertarian” straw men are trying to convince everyone that those who favor a free market actually want the sort of situation we see in Russia and in China.] This system was rightly condemned by Pope Leo XIII and his successors (Pius XI, St. John XXIII, Paul VI, St. John Paul II, Pope Benedict and, most recently, Pope Francis). China adds to this evil by maintaining controls on internal immigration, so that a rural worker moving to the city for work often does so illegally and is therefore denied access to the social safety net (like medical care) in the city. The Chinese system truly represents a horror.

  8. dans0622 says:

    Father Z., (or anyone who has seen this): is this a film that could be watched by a 4 year-old? He’s adopted from China so we try to keep him somehow connected to his native place and aware of it.
    What do you mean by “grittier”? Thanks.

    [Four years? No. The film is emotionally a rollercoaster and it isn’t a happy ride. I think it would be upsetting. Try something like The Road Home.]

  9. Marissa says:

    A standing ovation from me to you, Amateur Scholastic, for what that’s worth. It should be mentioned: libertarians are liberals. Liberalism is the very foundation of the United States. The word “liberal” is now used in the U.S. as an insult against/identifier of those of the “left” because Woodrow Wilson co-opted the word to describe the progressivism of his day. I think progressive liberal and classical liberal are good words to describe the “left” and “right” flavors of liberalism. The people in this country who call themselves conservatives are typically just conserving previous flavors of liberalism…which leads to, yes, worse and worse “progressive” liberalism. There is nothing intrinsically un-Catholic about a king and nothing intrinsically Catholic about a voting booth.

    We serve people who are here “illegally” in our parishes, schools, charitable works, etc. At least I do. It is a major problem if Catholics are antagonistic toward these people and their presence in our community. It is against the Gospel if we refuse to welcome them, it really is.

    I’d think there’s a conflict here with Caesar. I’m not exactly sure about how it all plays out. My own personal reasons are — one should only immigrate to a country legally. If the immigrants are under extreme duress, a good leader will give refuge for those he can and find refuge elsewhere for the remaining. As a subject I shouldn’t interfere with the legitimate exercise of authority (and yes, immigration belongs to Caesar). I’m here to be convinced though, so I’m certainly open to other people’s ideas.

  10. pj_houston says:

    Elizabeth: “It is a major problem if Catholics are antagonistic toward these people and their presence in our community. It is against the Gospel if we refuse to welcome them, it really is.”

    While the dignity of every human being should be respected, since when is welcoming and even encouraging someone in sin a part of Gospel teaching? To break into a country illegally, steal its resources, overwhelm its hospital and educational systems and put law abiding citizen’s lives in danger is immoral. It’s also a form of consequentialism to say its okay to commit a wrong in order to accomplish some perceived good. You’re saving the body at the price of the soul here. Try living down here in a border state where farmers and ranchers often sleep with shotguns by their bed in order to protect their families from these illegal invaders. Our bishops should be ashamed for encouraging this current situation where parents are now sending their children for God’s sake.

  11. dans0622 says:

    Thanks, Father.

  12. SKAY says:

    The news media in Central and South America are encouraging people to send their children –that the US will not send them back. [Remember the fact that the movie is about Chinese migrants, moving around, within China?] They are being told they will be taken care of (healthcare-place to live etc) and be able to become citizens. It has been reported that Obama is using taxpayer money to hire lawyers for them. We have activists within our country pushing this in order to achieve a purpose. Overwhelming the system is a tactic and that is exactly what is happening. Drug cartels and human traffickers are a part of this also.
    Some do have illegal immigrant family members within this country already. Those who do not –and if made citizens would then be able to bring in many of their family members still in other countries.
    Everything is supposed to be paid for by US citizens who still have jobs and are paying taxes. Thes kids and family members will end up on Medicaid and guess who pays for that. The cost of Obamacare is skyrocketing as it is.

  13. Elizabeth D says:

    “since when is welcoming and even encouraging someone in sin a part of Gospel teaching? To break into a country illegally, steal its resources…[etc]”

    With all due respect, I sincerely disagree with your point of view and I do not think migration to the US is necessarily a sin (surely not ordinarily a serious sin) nor use of social services, charity, education, healthcare by them “stealing”. I am even kind of chilled by what you are expressing. I have been baffled by Catholics with this point of view and the only thing I can figure is that some are more formed by secular conservative politics of those convinced that this costs Americans money. But I don’t even understand being that concerned about money that if one is a Christian one would ever put the Gospel in parenthesis. I live in WI currently, and before that in San Antonio TX where I was surrounded by many immigrants and grew up understanding some of those I knew were undocumented, and my current parish in Madison, WI (the one where Fr Z says Mass on Sunday) is 60% Hispanic (mostly immigrants) and way more than that percentage in the catechism program.

    Those parishioners from Mexico say that in many places in Mexico there is not charity healthcare available, you have to pay for it and if you cannot then you don’t get care. I don’t agree with resenting people bringing their family where humanly they are better able to have the basics. I think there is not enough understanding of the Catholic significance of human dignity and the realities of international poverty.

  14. Amateur Scholastic says:

    Thanks Marissa. I agree that what most people call ‘conservative’ is just another brand of liberalism. True conservatism holds that political authority, just like everything else in existence, proceeds from God, not from some abstract, made-up entity called ‘the people’, which could say one thing today and something completely different tomorrow. The idea that government somehow exists independently of God was (surprise!) very much a product of Protestant thought, and arose as a direct result of the Reformation.

    As for democracy, I would suggest that it is intrinsically wrong. The reason is that mass democracy is predicated on a candidate’s putting himself forward to rule over people. In other words, no vote can be held until a candidate (or several candidates) have declared “I wish to rule over you”. St Thomas (in common with most classical political thought) says that this is always sinful, because wishing to rule over people involves sinful pride. I can dig out a quote if you like.

    This is logical. Look at the kind of people who become politicians, whether ‘left’ or ‘right’. They are rarely good, or humble, or prudent or temperate or just. This is because they’ve had to be the opposite of all those things to get to where they are!

    That is not to say that elections are always wrong — if a group of electors chooses someone (as in a papal conclave), that is quite different, because nobody is putting himself forward. So I think you can have a Catholic monarchy or a Catholic republic, or a few other types of hybrid. But mass democracy is quite different. I think the nineteenth-century popes knew what they were doing when they warned against it.

  15. pj_houston says:

    Elizabeth, It looks like Fr. Z wants to limit this conversations to the treatment of migrants, so I won’t go into a detailed rebuttal. I stand by what I said, it’s theft and puts innocent lives in danger. Sorry for sidetracking the topic.

  16. acardnal says:

    Elizabeth, do you leave all of your doors unlocked and your windows open 24/7/365 at your residence and let strangers come in at their convenience and consume your goods, use your property without your permission? Nations have an obligation for the good of society to regulate immigration and borders just as citizens have right to control access to their own homes and property.

  17. Gerard Plourde says:

    Noted your Update – Sorry if my comment unintentionally opened immigration comments. My comment was intended to address the scandal of internal movement within China and meant to refer to the similarity to the internal passports of the old Soviet Union (a hallmark of totalitarian regimes).

  18. Elizabeth D says:

    acardnal, there is a distinction between welcoming the stranger, the alien, in our country and protecting against intruders and thieves the family home and personal property. You really see even fellow Cathedral Parish parishioners who don’t have legal status for being here as committing a transgression against you? These are our neighbors whom we are commanded to love. I have a hard time wrapping my head around the idea of Catholics who object to fellow parishioners being here in the same country.

  19. acardnal says:

    “acardnal, there is a distinction between welcoming the stranger, the alien, in our country and protecting against intruders and thieves the family home and personal property.”


    Immigration law must be complied with or there is anarchy. Allow those who do follow the law to enter first! Illegals should not go to the head of the line. Yes, treat them humanely and with respect, but they must go back to the end of the line and wait their turn.

  20. acardnal says:

    The USA is and has been VERY welcoming to the stranger, the alien and has been for hundreds of years to those who follow our immigration laws.

  21. Elizabeth D says:

    Acardnal, rather than welcoming the parishioners and neighbors who have come here undocumented, it sounds like you would like to deport them. How else could your words be interpreted? I am so troubled and saddened by this conversation. I do not believe your perspective is Christian, since it is directly opposed to the Gospel which calls on us to welcome them.

    There is a need for increased teaching on this subject by our Catholic leaders.

  22. Elizabeth D says:

    I really have the profoundest sense how the political polarization has damaged and divided the Church and malformed so many of us according to beliefs opposed to what the Catholic Church teaches. I don’t think a Catholic can identify too closely as a Democrat or as a Republican or let those things form them in ways opposed to Catholic social and moral teaching.

  23. SKAY says:

    I apologize for going off topic, Father. I do appreciate you pointing out this film as it is something I probably would not have considered before. I have teenage grandchildren who might benefit from seeing another side of what is actually happening in China right now under their present communist leadership. One of my grandsons is-at this moment of course-seriously interested in making Christian films. He is presently looking for colleges with film schools specializing in this particular area.

  24. wmeyer says:

    acardnal, Church teaching is very clear, as I see it. Church, not the teaching of various bishops, nor even cardinals. I frequently find it useful to quote this:

    2241 The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin. Public authorities should see to it that the natural right is respected that places a guest under the protection of those who receive him.

    Political authorities, for the sake of the common good for which they are responsible, may make the exercise of the right to immigrate subject to various juridical conditions, especially with regard to the immigrants’ duties toward their country of adoption. Immigrants are obliged to respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country that receives them, to obey its laws and to assist in carrying civic burdens.

    To me, this seems rational, balanced, and just. We are not called to accept all, nor to accept those who enter illegally. And contrary to a good deal of media raving, it also asserts the obligations of those accepted.

  25. pj_houston says:

    Exactly, wmeyer. Elizabeth argues we are being malformed by our political affiliations, but I would argue it is her that is being malformed by certain bishops, who want us to ignore the second paragraph of CCC 2241. Would they be so welcoming if these were Muslim immigrants? Unlikely.

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