This is the talk about #Refugees that I gave on Saturday, June 2, 2018 at the Archdiocese of Atlanta Eucharistic Congress. We all need to advocate on the behalf of those who have no voice!
Speak Up! Congress is dithering as usual and your voice is needed. DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals expires soon.
Polling in the United States consistently shows that an astounding 87% of all American citizens support bi-partisan action in Congress to protect the nearly 1.8 million Dreamers, young people who were brought into the United States by their parents as children. There is no other issue in our country where such a huge majority of Americans are in agreement. The problem is that Congress, as usual, cannot get its act together. We can change that and each of us should speak up.
Please participate in the DACA Call-in Day to Congress on Monday, February 26, 2018! Continue reading “#Dreamers – Congress Call in Day”
Recently a good friend of mine who knows about my work with #CatholicReliefServices and #Refugees gave me a poem written by Brian Bilston. As I read it, I was shocked at first and then as I continued it was clear to me that the poem expresses the very sad dichotomy that exists in our society regarding the plight of those fleeing war and persecution and any moral obligation that we have to assist them.
I think it correctly expresses the sentiment of those who look (and read) down without compassion and fail to see or care about these families escaping war and potential death. Then the poem expresses the sentiment of those who look (and read) up, with their eyes open, with compassion and mercy, just like the Good Samaritan who came to the aid of a stranger. Perhaps as Lent begins, we should try to look (and read) upward and #ShareTheJourney with these refugees who are simply fellow human beings.
They have no need of our help
So do not tell me
These haggard faces could belong to you or me
Should life have dealt a different hand
We need to see them for who they really are
Chancers and scroungers
Layabouts and loungers
With bombs up their sleeves
Cut-throats and thieves
They are not
We should make them
Go back to where they came from
Share our food
Share our homes
Share our countries
Instead let us
Build a wall to keep them out
It is not okay to say
These are people just like us
A place should only belong to those who are born there
Do not be so stupid to think that
The world can be looked at another way
(now read from bottom to top)
— Brian Bilston
On Wednesday, Pope Francis led an inspiring launch of #SharetheJourney, a global, two-year campaign in support of migrants and refugees. He opened his arms wide in a loving gesture and said, “Christ urges us to welcome our brothers and sisters with our arms truly open, ready for a sincere embrace, a loving and enveloping embrace.”
Migrants and refugees are not after our jobs, our lives or our culture. They are looking with hope toward a brighter future for their families in collaboration and with integration into their new homeland; just as my ancestors sought the same in the mid-1700’s. Their plight is little different from those in my family who fled war, persecution and economic hardship almost three hundred years ago. Continue reading “#ShareTheJourney”
#WorldRefugeeDay is a day of action! Through #CatholicRelief, #GlobalCitizen and other organizations, we have the confidence that we can make a difference of people who are suffering from displacement, terror and fear. Continue reading “Another #WorldRefugeeDay”
#Refugees who are fleeing persecution or the violence and destruction of war deserve to be welcomed. As I have stated before, it is in the National DNA of the American people to come to the aid of those who are in need, oppressed or desperate for safety. When we have failed to live up to this National instinct, we have found ourselves on the wrong side of history and later spoke of our profound regret. Take for instance, our country’s rejection of Jews fleeing Nazi Germany. After turning them away, many ended up dying in concentration camps at the hands of those they were trying to escape from. We recall that time and action with shame.
Hostility toward people in need is not an American characteristic or virtue. Neither is cowardice. Historically, Americans are willing to not only speak for those in need, but we have been willing to take risks to protect them. I like to think of our country like the man who is willing to take a personal risk and step into difficult situations to protect those who are more vulnerable. It is the country that we have tried to be in my lifetime. But things are changing.
President Trump’s ill conceived, poorly executed, and legally questionable Executive Order barring refugees seeking safety in the United States, is an act of both hostility and cowardice that is antithetical to our American tradition. Americans should be appalled, but for some reason 30%-40% of us are are not. We should ask ourselves, ‘Is the extremely low probability of a terrorist entering the country a fair balance against the pain and suffering of millions of people?’ My answer is, ‘It is not.’ To let people suffer and die because we might have the slight risk of harm is not an American virtue, it is cowardice.
For a real look at the “dangerous” people that so many Americans are so very afraid of, take the time to view the documentary: 4.1 Miles. It was made by Daphne Matziaraki and has been nominated for an Academy Award. After watching it, just ask yourself, do these people deserve our hostility or should we really have such great fear of them. I hope your answer on both questions is a firm NO! Let’s tell our leaders that we can do more, bear more and be welcoming and brave Americans.
This weekend the #YearofMercy announced by Pope Francis will come to an end. The focus of the year was to have all people of good will reflect on God’s mercy toward us and how we are to extend mercy to others. Recently I wrote a booklet containing a series of reflections for a tour of the Doors of Mercy in Atlanta. I have been asked to post that booklet so others could have access to it. It can be found here: Reflections at the Doors of Mercy. Although the Year of Mercy is over, our need to extend loving kindness and compassion to one another in this troubled world continues. Peace!