We have been asked to build a wall around us both literally and figuratively. We have been asked to turn away from the innocent. To allow them to suffer and even die because they are not convenient to us, because they may make our lives a little more difficult. I reject this. I reject this with every ounce of morality in my soul. We are facing great difficulties in our nation: poverty, homelessness, environmental destruction, rampant political and corporate corruption, demagogue leaders who seek to divide us. But, regardless of our political views, we have to agree on this one thing. We must treat our fellow human beings with compassion and love. We live in a country that was built on letting people in. Our country’s greatest symbol screams out to the world,
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
If you cannot look into the eyes of a child like Amena with compassion and empathy then you can no longer call yourself pro-life. If you support sending unaccompanied children back to countries where they will be forced into gangs, raped and murdered then you cannot call yourself a Christian. If you are not willing to open our nation’s golden doors for the innocent men and women who are only seeking a better life, then your morality has been corrupted. I am agnostic but believe that wherever the truth in life rests, it must be for those who are willing to reach out a hand to their fellow human beings. Though perhaps my words will fall on filtered ears, where truth is alternative and compassion is mocked. Then find guidance in another. Listen to Pope Francis as he says, “We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories….”
I will remember Amena. I will hope that those beautiful eyes are gazing out at something wonderful. Something healing. I will remember that there are other Amenas throughout the world. In Syria, and Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, Africa and Alabama. I will think of all of the world’s little boys and girls, men and women who only need a chance to survive, to thrive. Let’s put aside our differences and come together to say that we will not turn away from them, not choose the easy, selfish path. We will welcome them, and look them in their beautiful eyes and let them share their stories with us. Then, in whatever way this world takes us back into it, we will know that for generations of beautiful eyes we made a difference.