My apologies ahead of time if this post is not what you come here to read. It won’t be very funny (not that they ever are).
When I decided to bring this blog back from hibernation, I did so with the intention of writing exclusively about travel and directly related topics. Long time readers of this page know I’ve never been shy about getting into politics and writing passionately about social issues. Going forward, though, I wanted this page to eschew those topics as much as possible, to be a positive page buoyed by the joy of travel.
To ignore what is going on in my country right now, though, would be a disservice. To write some random entry about a failed trip I once took would be a lie, because that isn’t where my mind is right now.
This is not a political post. I want to write about who we are.
Put simply, this Travel Ban – the Muslim Ban, the Refugee Ban, whatever you would call it – is not who we are. I refuse to accept this as a Conservative versus Liberal issue. Shame on us if we allow it to become so.
Since World War II, when America was forced to reconcile with the tragic results of banning refugees in the 1930s, we have been a nation that said we were a home for the outcast. It has been our identity in the world; it has been our beacon, a figurative idea made literal by Lady Liberty who stands roughly 5 miles from where I type this.
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
This has been the spirit of this nation for over 100 years. That is not to gloss over our numerous failings as a nation, especially as it relates to foreign policy. Our actions have rarely lived up to our ideals. But we have had those ideals, and they have been what united us as a nation, even if we couldn’t agree how best to achieve them.
For eight years, dyspeptic voices warned us that President Obama was fundamentally changing the character of this nation. Well, in eight days, Donald Trump truly did it.
You can be fiscally conservative and see this is wrong. You can be socially conservative and see this is wrong. You can love your children and want to protect them and not turn your backs on others – that isn’t love, that’s fear. This isn’t Right versus Left, this is a basic question of our humanity. To shut our doors on those in need under the guise – the lie – that it will keep us safe is to fail on every level to be the nation we have claimed to be for a century.
I won’t post pictures of the children caught in the Syrian war because I don’t want to be accused of using emotional manipulation or propaganda. But you have seen them. You have seen these children, these mothers, these fathers; you have seen their suffering. They are no less human because the God they pray to answers to a different name than yours.
“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
I have been told often that we are a Christian nation. When will we act as such? How can we be a nation that professes that it is in God we trust, yet we have no faith that we will be protected if we do what is right?
I don’t know what motivates you. I don’t know which truth you hold most dear to your heart. I don’t know which belief guides your choices.
Here is mine: Humanity is flawed; it is capable of great evil and depravity, motivated by selfishness, greed, hatred, and, more often than anything else, fear. But within humanity is also the capacity for tremendous acts of love and sacrifice, resilience and hope. I believe that humanity at its best surpasses humanity at its worst. And I believe that there is no Judgment Day awaiting, no eternal reward or punishment; just the beating rhythm of our own conscience too often drowned out by the frightened bellows within us.
To those living elsewhere in the world: Know that the actions of these particular leaders are not the will of much of the people. It is not my will. I became a traveler because I do not believe in walls. I travel because my humanity is awakened when I open myself up to new experiences and new perspectives.
To those of you living in the US: Now, we must resist this spreading evil, just as generations passed resisted tyranny in Europe and elsewhere. We must not grow complacent or irresolute in the face of this onslaught of cruelty. This is not who we are as a nation. This is not who we are as people.
This is how we resist:
ACLU = https://www.aclu.org/
CAIR = https://www.cair.com/
IRC = http://www.rescue.org
Southern Poverty Law Center = https://www.splcenter.org/
Planned Parenthood = https://www.plannedparenthood.org/
We are different; we are not separate.