What would you do if it was your life?
No matter what side you are on in the debate in our country, regarding illegal immigration, I think it is always important to place ourselves in another’s position before we so harshly judge the actions of others. This article is an opportunity to open a conversation, in peace and I hope may be an opening in dialog for each of our thoughts and feelings.
I truly believe we are all given an opportunity to be on this earth for a higher purpose, to put a human face on those remaining in the shadows and a voice for those who may be afraid to speak. I hope that you will keep an open mind and try to see through the eyes of another, viewing it from another perspective. It is so easy to lose sight of the harm and damage caused when discussing issues that are so vast and complicated. But please ask yourself what would you have done if you were in the same situation?
What if you were you born into poverty, with little chance for education or advancement? You were desperate to give your family a chance at a better life, just an opportunity. A chance to work. It didn’t matter the task, you were willing to work hard doing any work you could find.
You have spent your life laboring in positions like cleaning homes and landscaping in the heat or washing dishes in restaurant kitchens. Serving us! Remaining in the shadows, living in constant fear of being discovered. Sacrificing your life so your child could get an education, surrendering everything to give them an opportunity that you never had. Never complaining, working hard and contributing to the community. Buying groceries, clothing, eating out in restaurants and renting homes from people like you and I. Spending money in the communities in which we all live together.
Wouldn’t you have run as far and as fast as you could, to give your family a chance? Once safe you had become a good citizen and a reliable worker. Should you be punished and lumped into a group with criminals? Rounded up and taken to the border, dumped out of a bus with nowhere to go. I ask you, is the crime they committed, running for a better life, so many years ago that awful that we can find no compassion? To say anyone here illegally is a bad person or a criminal is like saying because my family is Italian I must be in the mafia! Yet when we view it from our ivory tower “they may all seem the same”. They are not, they are grandmothers, grandfathers, mothers, fathers, daughters, sons and they are people of faith and they love each other – just like we do!
Is it that people here illegally are now caught up in the perfect storm of anger, a reaction from mistakes of our own creation? A huge wave of unhappiness created by our own lack of discipline in spending coupled with a ruthlessness of those more powerful who felt lining their pockets with our money was far more important than doing what is moral and right. These criminals in finance and mortgage remain here legally, untouched and unprosecuted. How can we all look away so easily from them, while rationalizing away destroying the lives of good people?
Again, ask yourself what would you have done if it were you and your family?
There is no question that the border is broken and needs to be secured, immediately. But will sending everyone back if they are not here legally solve our ultimate goal of closing the border or does it only serve to distract from the real problem. Yes, we need to interview and do background checks and if they are not good citizens they should not be able to remain in our country. If you want to remain here you should learn our language, pay taxes, and be allowed to apply and become citizens, legally. But why deport anyone caught in a net when the vast majority of the people already here are a part of the fabric of what this country is all about. Just think the gifts they might have to share with us, if they could step out of the shadows.
I think we are throwing away an opportunity to reap the benefits of children that we have educated, leaving this country to join their parents. Is our society in such good standing that we can discard the good people along with the bad? Get in line and wait your turn would be a solution but remember that line extends miles and years. And in that line are people from every country and background.
But ask yourself if my family was starving and there was no other opportunity to feed them wouldn’t you break the law?
I would move heaven and earth for my children. I would beg and steal and yes run across a desert for them. But you see I don’t need to do any of those things because I was blessed to have been born in the United States. I was offered a free education and an opportunity to be anything I wanted to be. What I have chosen to do with that freedom, out of gratitude for the blessings is to use my voice to speak out. To try to help others who were not given the chance for education, no opportunity to work. No, not a hand out, a hand up!
You see some of the other people I am compelled to speak for would gladly run across a desert, given the opportunity, even if it was against the law. For them there is nowhere to run. With 143 million orphans in the world for which there is nowhere to run and no one to run to and in the countries where women remain unable to attend school or vote , they remain oppressed and silent, they have no voice to be heard and no way to escape. I understand why a person given a choice would risk everything and run.
I felt driven to do something after all the media attention was quick to focus on and sensationalize all the events of the last week. We need to speak out and speak up and allow our voices to be heard.
The opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference. Elie Wiesel Please do not let indifference claim your space.
I reaffirmed for myself a few weeks ago the power I, Kim Upstone have with just my name. It is a power we each have. I signed my name on a petition against the stoning of a woman in Iran. As I typed in my name alongside hundreds of thousands of others, human right leaders, celebrities, politicians and other everyday people, I realized that my name filled just one small line of the thousands of spaces. Just one small, seemingly insignificant space but yet a powerful part of a much larger force. My name became so much more than just letters on a line to me, at that moment, I realized I am only one but I can claim my space where I feel compelled to help. Claim your spot. Put your name on the line when it’s the right time for you and realize the power you have as one.
If you are interested in finding out more about Sakineh or are interested in signing the petition against her stoning death please visit http://freesakineh.org/
Love and blessings to all,