Opportunism: Bringing home the bacon, no matter what…or how?

Graham Kerr circa 1964 - blog cover
Dec 02, 2016

Opportunism: Bringing home the bacon, no matter what…or how?


Food for thought?

Last week I tried to recall how it felt to face insecurity as I left the less than comfortable security of being a government employee for ten years. All I had going for me was that somewhere ‘out there’, there might be an opportunity to be paid enough to “bring home the bacon” and pay the rent.

Since I had almost ten months left to serve I had lots of time to keep my eyes and ears open. What I no longer describe as LUCK…was with me!

Little by little, using my limited experience in the public sector, I began to see a niche where I could meet needs with innovative food ideas. I offered my services as a food promotion consultant and wonderfully, it worked!

You may remember that I had left England with the stern warning from my previous employer, “I will see that you never regain employment in the British Hotel business!” I was therefore, almost, an immigrant escaping persecution.  It certainly felt like it as I looked out of the small oval window of the old Air Force transport and watched as my very green homeland was lost in a fine overcast mist; I felt so…alone!

I was an immigrant to New Zealand; or was I an opportunist looking for a better way of living life?

The New Zealand National Food Fair. Circa 1964

So…what about now?

We are now living in a world full of real people, often with their entire family, looking for a better life.

We call them refugees sometimes but mostly immigrants; many who are escaping very real threats to their lives.

This so-called ‘flood’ has unsettled some people who see these waves of arrivals as somehow diluting their national identity.

Because I have been a quadruple immigrant myself; in New Zealand, Australia, Canada and finally when I became a citizen of the United States. I have come to see immigrants as opportunists who come complete with skills and talent…looking to see where they might fit…in very different circumstances.

I, like my present day counterparts, had to keep my eyes and ears open and whenever an opportunity presented itself, to do my best to deliver great service by doing hard work and wanting to become accepted for who I was…a foreigner.

We often call Western developed nations –“lands of opportunity” and so why not see immigrants as ‘skilled’ opportunists who have come to work hard and become accepted. Who doesn’t identify with that need?

Do you know a recent ‘opportunist’? What kind of impression did they make on you?

Have you ever helped an immigrant/opportunist to enter your community?

Or, have you arrived, as I did, as an opportunist? How did it work for you?

This week I read Treena’s poem A Prayer

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  1. Jean Says: 5:37 am

    Fabulous summary Lynn! I love this time of year – Thanksgiving. I love reuniting with our roots of the first pilgrims coming here meeting up with the native Americans and how they worked together – the established teaching the new – how to survive in this land. Immigrants have always come here in waves – first the English, then the Dutch, Germans, Irish, Italians – each of the established condemning the newcomer. It’s the same now. Why not new ethnicities??? Why not carry on as we always have? Opportunists – bring them on – we need all we can get. It’s the tarres, weeds, and rats that spoil the crops of life. For them we have the scales of justice.

  2. Debbie Says: 12:19 pm

    I believe this is an entirely different world than the world you speak of. Many in the U.S. have changed their belief system since the 9/11 attacks and no longer are willing to take a chance of just anyone being opportunistic. I grew up in a neighborhood that welcomed the Polish immigrant who had spent time in a concentration camp during WW II, but made snide comments about the “good” Catholic family that moved in down the street with their 9 kids. Until people use their hearts to welcome those who are different, I don’t believe there will be many opportunities for those who are not exactly the same as what the neighborhood is used to seeing. We are all immigrants of one form or another, unless you are Native American, and even that group is still having its issues. Times they are a changing, but not always for the best. Oh, and by the way, I have been a fan of yours since the 1970s !!!!!!

  3. Lisa Says: 7:46 am

    I think it
    might be the
    illegal immigrants
    some people are
    worried about

  4. Lynn Severance Says: 3:17 pm

    I heard clearly what Graham shared as he spoke to us this week – the context of how he is re-thinking the label of those who immigrate to our country and are willing to share their skills and find, in doing so, a better quality of life.

    Yet I had to process through the word, “opportunist” as my initial response was the more common connotation of the word meaning one who will look for gain and their own satisfaction, no matter how it is attained or who may be ‘stepped on’ in the process.

    Then I noticed the word in this week’s title, ‘opportunism’ and the word, ‘optimism’ jumped into my musings.

    I believe that at the root of anyone’s seeking to give of themselves, or our interacting with others in the ways we are gifted, is the optimism that an opportunity discerned is the exact right one to give a quality of life to all involved; that we meet in interdependence of give and take for the good of all.

    Idealistic? Yes. But it is the perspective that undergirds, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. . . and your neighbor as yourself.”

    During this current season of Advent, do we not think of the grandest immigrant of all who left his eternal home, stripped himself by choice of his Godly nature to become wombed in flesh as the Son of God? His destiny and love paved the way in offering us opportunities to optimistically welcome any into our life whose needs we may be able to meet through encouragement or by offering them direction – no matter from whence they come.

  5. James Thompson Says: 5:37 pm

    Graham. You spoke of immergrants and oppurtunists. It brought tears to my eyes thinking about the plight of my grandfather. Back in Great Britain he started a small construction business and raising a family. When the call to war was summoned, he answered. Shortly after the bombing of Britain his term of service was up, of course he could of stayed on but, needed to go home. Only to find his home town in ashes …. “Where are my family!? My siblings, my parents, my wife and children!?” By the grace of God, weeks later he found them all … Hearing the many stories of the land of oppurtunity that is America, he took his family, wife and four children (my father being the youngest) to America! He then started uo once again a constuction business and taught his childen in turn, thought their children to seize oppurtunity by the forelok but, DO NOT STEP ON OTHERS todo so. My grandfather passed. My father passed. I adore the lessons that they both taught me. Thank you Graham for your inspiring topics … God bless …

  6. Hope Ware Says: 2:41 pm

    Graham: I like the word “opportunity”. We have taught our boys to pursue their God-given abilities and passions to the fullest and that the Lord will provide opportunities and open doors for them to use those talents to His glory. But, we have also taught them that no work is beneath their status in life. So, if you are hired to sweep floors, be the best floor-sweeper that company has ever had. Opportunity often presents itself when you have been faithful in the “small” things.

    Immigration, is indeed, a tough subject for many these days. It is easy to say, “cut off immigration” until you personally know an immigrant. We have friends who immigrated from Syria years ago. For quite a while his brother was trapped in Syria, forbidden by the government to leave. We prayed that there would be some way for him to leave and a country for him to go to. He was eventually able to leave and go to another country – not near his brother in the United States. But, out of harm’s way. I agree with Karl. When you see their faces (and I see the face of my friend) you are filled with compassion want to be able to help.

  7. karl Says: 7:14 am

    I think the desire for “opportunity” is deeply ingrained in our human nature and a good trait when submitted to the will of God. I admit I have not lived up to that standard in my life on many occasions. The opportunities we often go after, are often followed to gain material goods, power and prestige. It’s always a fine line to make the distinction between godly and worldy motives. I admit that for me coming to the US was based on gaining a “better” life in terms of material things. I payed a price for this as the opportunity did not work out. I had and now still have to humble myself before the Lord to come back to the real purpose of our life.

    In terms of the refugees, I think it’s very complex. There are those who simply want to escape the horror of war, torture/murder by radical elements such as ISIS and extreme poverty. I did see some of those poor people in Munich and Budapest last year and it breaks your heart when you look at the faces of these poor people. I was especially moved by the faces of the children…their search for “opportunity” is so basic and I believe we must do everything to help. I think for others it’s still the same motive, make a better life. It’s also noteworthy that the US has long lost the place as the “LAND OF OPPORTUNITIES”, many other countries offer a much better quality of life

  8. Jean Says: 6:04 am

    Yes – this is wisdom in action. You had such great inate skills that became your tool box – your qualities in God’s workshop of this world. Survival is the bass estate for success. The need to survive and thrive. My parents were immigrants here – I am first generation American, I am so thankful they had that drive to do better, be better, have more, create more. I admire their courage to leave all they knew for the adventure of the unknown yet promised (re:our journey to Heaven?). They started a family of 9 who all became engineers – highly skilled and educated. What would we have become without their vision? They became part of a community with the same ethnicity and culture yet fully assimilated in language and respect for government and became citizens. Opportunities, like fish ladders, are there for all to embark, but it takes vision, motivation, courage, and strength to propel yourself forward. Such as the Lord tells us “do not faint or grow weary in doing good”. Who knows how many ladders are in your stream?? I survived in business by leap-frogging from one career opportunity to another – becoming multi-skilled and available – always focused on the end result – my life’s goals. Now that we are a global society perhaps the USA is not the end all for immigrants – and should it be? Why aren’t there more lands of opportunity? It’s our unique blend of all peoples of the world governing themselves in a common bond of love, respect, and dignity. Thank you God for our promised land.

  9. Suzanne Johnson Says: 5:49 am

    As you talk about immigration/opportunity I wonder about Abraham. Perhaps each person who feels a call to move on is responding to a Divine invitation? Perhaps each person who listens and moves is blessed with promises too? There and then meeting the here and now. 🙂

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