I truly believe that if you plant the seed of helping others when a person is young—by participating in fundraisers like “Trick or Treat for UNICEF” that benefited children around the world, which was popular when I was a kid, seeking monetary donations for UNICEF instead of candy for ourselves—then you help to nurture a giving and/or social justice mindset in that individual.
And when celebrities or public figures make statements or through their actions make their charitable and compassionate sentiments known, that has an impact on all of us—in encouraging our own charitable, community building, and inclusiveness efforts. For example, yesterday the talented British actor Richard Armitage retweeted one of his pictures from last year when Mr. Armitage and his Berlin Station cast mates visited a refugee camp in Germany and played with the kids there (below). I tweeted my appreciation to Mr. Armitage with the following comment: This photo of your visit to a refugee camp last year is a great reminder to all that refugees are families, just like us, needing our help.
So when a new social or government policy that is executed is believed to be ill considered and even detrimental to the common good—and in direct contradiction to the law of the land–it behooves those who take issue with that policy to state their objections in rejecting that policy.
And the recent heartwarming outpouring of support by individuals in communities, non-governmental agencies/organizations like the ACLU and others, current and former public servants, and other government leaders near and far to object to a policy that would discriminate against persons for their religious beliefs and heritage, their country of origin—or some other aspect of individuals, be it gender, ethnicity, race, etc.—in the hope of aiding those discriminated against, is a civics lesson in building a better society by coming together to advocate for others’ well-being, especially those individuals in peril who have had to flee their homes in order to seek a safe place to live and raise their families.
And the legal protests in favor of the detained refugees and immigrants won! Another ACLU site link about the legal win also has a link to the Judges stay against the ban. Finally, The Boston Globe share the story about the legal win against the refugee/immigrant ban—some outcomes were happy ones (see below), but unfortunately, with an example of one family being returned to their country of Syria, and that they “were not allowed to call or contact their family in the United States before being removed [sent back to Syria on a plane]”, before the courts could act and affect them.
“Baharak Bahmani greeted her husband Hamed Hosseini-Bay at Boston’s Logan Airport after he was held for hours after his flight from Iran.” Boston Globe, January 29, 2017.
The discriminatory events of this past weekend by denying entry to those individuals (refugees and immigrants with permits) who had already been approved by our country to enter, have been and are distressing. Yet our citizens and leaders protesting and launching legal challenges to that discrimination, are the kinds of actions and beliefs that built this country—the United States—from the ground up. We are not perfect—no country is. And we have to live with our shame of that every day.
Yet each of us can make a positive difference by vowing to be and to do better and by opening our hearts and minds to others—and by requiring our leaders to do the same.
The United States is a country made up of citizens from many countries. Our nation is a beautiful and strong tapestry of varied cultures, varied heritages, and limitless individuals’ contributions and sacrifices, that have shaped the formation and the building of our country. Let us not break the threads of that tapestry and diminish its luster by removing the very threads that bind us together in our humanity.
But rather, let us continue to add to our nation’s tapestry’s beauty and strength– with new members/immigrants/future citizens (poem excerpt, below) who possess talents and skills and heart and other numerous contributions to share. Just as we share with them what is euphemistically referred to as “the American Dream”, building bonds of friendship one person and one family at a time. Hugs & Love!
P.S. And here is the Emma Lazurus poem from the Statue of Liberty in song, poignantly sung by children: