The senseless deaths of migrants, immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees began with the systemic failure of our governments to act in the interest of their citizens.
What would cause a person to put themselves and their babies in such mortal peril? (Hint: it's not because they are irresponsible or bad parents, you jerk.) Ask yourself why people risk bodily harm - death in the desert, drowning, and imprisonment.
"As long as the root causes in Central America are not addressed — including the major role the U.S. has and continues to play in the violence, terror and systemic poverty — Central Americans will continue to flee and make the perilous trek north." - Susan M. Akram
The crisis at our southern border is a symptom of a much, much larger global problem. For a thorough analysis, please read the full article by Susan M. Akram, Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the International Human Rights Law Clinic at Boston University School of Law:
What's Driving The Migration Crisis At Our Southern Border?
We. Are. Traumatized - whether we engage and fret over it, or we ignore it and rationalize it and find someone else to blame so we can go on living our lives. Generations of people are being traumatized, some to the point of going numb and becoming indifferent.
As a leader in foreign affairs, you would assume the US could actually lead rather than blame the very victims of widespread war, starvation, poverty, and gang violence for their own oppression and resultant deaths at the hands of a cruel and neglectful state, abroad, here in the US, and everywhere in between.
Instead of saying "What about..." and "America first," maybe we should start asking WHY this keeps happening and then HOW we can stop it. Declaring “America first” is saying that an imaginary line defines our humanity. Putting America first implies there are limits to who gets to be free and alive, and who doesn't. This sentiment denies the basic humanity of others, and it belittles and demeans our own.
Migrants, immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers didn't ask to be born into war, poverty, and gang violence. The only difference between you and migrants is your birthplace and that is sheer luck. You didn't do anything special not to be born into poverty in South America, or not have your home blown up in Syria. One day, it could happen to you. Would you want to be blamed for your own death if you fled for your life and for the promise of freedom and safety? What wouldn't you do to save your child?
When people see these senseless deaths, the abuse and neglect of children, the conditions of the concentration camp and say "This is not America" they are wrong. This is exactly what America has always been. Just ask Native Americans. Ask African-Americans. Ask Japanese-Americans.
But that doesn't mean the promise - the one that moves us to fly our flag, and our brothers and sisters to don a uniform and fight - is meaningless. This promise means more than we can ever know - right now, and for generations to come. The hope that one day we may actually fulfill the promise of America - and exemplify the compassionate heart of our Lady Liberty, Mother of Exiles.
We are the change we've been waiting for. You are more powerful than you think. Don't just look for the helpers. Be one.
We can be better. We can even "be best." So what are you waiting for?
*From poets.org: "Lazarus was asked for an original poem to be auctioned off as a fundraiser for the building of the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. Though she initially declined, Lazarus later used the opportunity to express the plight of refugee immigrants, who she cared greatly about. Her resulting sonnet...is inscribed on a plaque on the pedestal of the monument."
Special thanks to Linda Bolton, Kyan Bowman, Jaimie Jandovitz for their editing contributions!
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I am a tech pro, blogger, DIY'er, reader, TV binger, music lover, nerd and semi-crunchy mom. I write about professional development, being crafty, motherhood and politics. Thanks for joining me and letting me share my thoughts with you!