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!
#Dreamers – Congress Call in Day
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”
A #Refugee Poem – How do You Read It?
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”
Hostility and Cowardice are Not American Virtues
#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.
Progress Against Human Trafficking and Slavery
I mentioned in an earlier post that I was part of a @CatholicRelief delegation that met with staff members of the U.S. Senators and Representatives to discuss H.R. 3226/S. 1968, which is the Business Supply Chain Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act. This pending legislation requires publicly traded companies with revenues over $100 million to include in their SEC reporting statements that indicate they are working to ensure their supply chain is free from human trafficking and slavery. Not all companies wait until legislation is passed to take right and moral actions. One such company is Patagonia. Watch the video to better understand the problem, a bit about Fair Trade and the good work Patagonia is doing. If you don’t have 12 minutes, watch the short 2 minute version here: patagonia – Fair and Ethical Trade.
#CCGPoverty #FairTrade #CatholicRelief #EndTraffick
Advocacy: A Day on Capitol Hill
Yesterday I was part of a delegation of Catholic Relief Services Global Fellows who went to Capitol Hill to meet with legislative staff members of our Senators and Representatives. Our purpose was to advocate on behalf of two groups of people that are all too often voiceless in world society; those who are victims of human trafficking and slavery and refugees.
We discussed the pending legislation H.R. 3226/S. 1968, which is the Business Supply Chain Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act. This act would be another important step toward ending trafficking and enslavement around the world. Currently there are approximately 30 million slaves in the world, many are women and children who are held in the sex trade and many are men in forced labor. The act would require all publicly traded companies with revenues of $100 million or more to include in their annual report a statement that tells what efforts they have made to ensure their goods and services have not been produced by people who are enslaved. The legislation is important because it again affirms the inherent dignity of each human and the revulsion we all have for human trafficking and slavery. In addition, businesses will benefit when they are assured their competitors do not have an unfair and immoral advantage over them due to the cost differential that the use of slaves creates.
All people of good faith can let their voices be heard on this topic. To send a note to your senators and representative you can go to this website and complete the form: Support H.R. 3226/S.1968. It only takes a minute and can have a huge impact.
In each office we also encouraged support for additional funding for humanitarian aid in the federal budget for the current fiscal year. Right now the humanitarian aid funding is .014% of the Federal Budget – that is just over 1/100th of one percent. It is that small in the face of the largest refugee crisis since World War II. While acknowledging that every country has a right to vet those who wish to migrate we must also admit that we have a moral imperative to aid those fleeing war and persecution by supporting refugees where they presently reside, during their journey and within our own borders should they be admitted. Increasing funding to provide all refugees the basic necessities of life like food, shelter, clothing and education for children is not optional for anyone who claims to be Christian or American. It is a moral requirement that we cannot justify ignoring.
As a Georgian, I am proud to say that we received a warm welcome in all three offices and the promise of additional study and consideration of the pending legislation. I encourage each reader to take the time to contact your Congressional delegation and voice your support for both of these initiatives. Based on our meetings, I can assure you if you are a Georgian, your voice will be heard. Peace!
A Six-Year Old’s Compassion
Deep within each of us is a moral compass. We can look at that compass and follow it or not; that is called free will. It is interesting how instinctive and easy it is for children to follow the moral direction it points with compassion and heartfelt sympathy for others. A six-year old New York boy named Alex saw the picture of little Omran Daqneesh in the back of an ambulance in Aleppo, Syria and was moved with compassion. He was so moved that he wrote a letter to President Obama asking the President to go get Omran and bring him to the U.S. so that Alex’s family “will give him a family and he will be our brother.” The moving story of Alex’s plea can be found here: Alex’s Letter to the President.
Deep within each of us is a moral compass. Like Alex, we each should follow it; it will help us navigate to a better world.
Stark Choice in Syria – Become Refugees or Risk Injury and Death
In January of this year I visited Greece and Serbia with a delegation from @CatholicRelief to better understand the #RefugeeCrisis in the Middle East and Europe and to witness the humanitarian relief being provided. While there we had the opportunity to meet many refugees and aid workers. In this blog, I have reported stories of just some of the people that we encountered. Continue reading “Stark Choice in Syria – Become Refugees or Risk Injury and Death”