Mother of Exiles

There is a lot I love about this country and at the top of the list is that the United States of America, from its inception, has been a nation of immigrants. One of the least attractive dimensions of my country is the way it has treated the only truly native Americans. But what makes me proud is the way America has welcomed people from other lands, races and cultures and in the process has become something altogether unique and wonderful – a new nation comprised entirely of people from somewhere else – immigrants. Now, in the aftermath of the despicable ISIS attacks in Paris and ISIS threats to attack us, politicians are vying with one another to close our borders, reverse our historical welcome and stop immigration from Syria and Iraq, two of the most dangerous and deadly places on earth. Instead of providing moral leadership they are claiming only to reflect their constituents’ views and in the process violating one of the most precious American values and traditions.

Governor Rauner, here in Illinois, was one of the first to declare that women, men, and children from Syria are not welcome. And instead of gratitude for being protected I am disappointed and deeply ashamed.

On a bronze plaque in the base of the Statue of Liberty is a poem by American poet Emma Lazarus. Her Sephardic Jewish family had immigrated to America from Portugal before the Revolutionary War. The title of her poem is “The New Colossus”.

Not like the huge giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome: her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!”cries she
With silent lips. “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-lost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

A Prayer – based on Prayers for the National Life, The Book of Common Worship, Presbyterian Church (USA):

Almighty God, you have given us this good land as our heritage. People have come here from every corner of the globe. They have brought customs and languages and traditions which, over the years, have been woven together into a rich and beautiful national tapestry. We thank you that our forbears welcomed oppressed and persecuted people who found lives of dignity and security and freedom here. Remind us, O God, to embrace that precious tradition in our time. Deliver us from fear. Make us, who come from many nations, a united people committed to the uniquely noble aspiration to be the light our Statue holds high, a nation of welcome and liberty and justice for all. Amen

 

Comments

  1. jack macmullan says:

    I TOTALLY AGREE WITH JOHN’S HISTORICAL PICTURE OF OUR IMMIGRATION CONTRIBUTING TO MAKE US THE GREAT NATION THAT WE ARE. HOWEVER WHEN THERE IS A NEW EVIL THREATENING OUR COUNTRY, IT SHOULD NOT BE “BUSINESS AS USUAL”, BUT RATHER AN ANALYSIS THAT ATLEAST SLOWS IMMIGRATION DOWN SO THAT WE CAN MORE THOROUGHLY INVESTIGATE AND PROTECT OUR PEOPLE AND NATION. THERE IS A SENSIBLE, RATIONAL, COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO THIS, HOWEVER BOTH PARTY’S PLAY POLITICS WITH BOTH OUR WONDERFUL HISTORICAL IMMIGRATION POLICIES, AND OUR HOME LAND SECURITY. IT IS TIME FOR BOTH PARTY’S TO STOP THE NONSENSE AND WORK TOGETHER.

  2. Thank you John,
    It is good to hear a rational calming voice in times of turmoil. Let us hope and pray that yours and the many other similar voices get heard and heeded.

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