The Statue of Liberty has become a symbol of America. She is a symbol of freedom and welcome. And if you go to Liberty Island and see the statue, you can read the New Colossus, a poem written by Emma Lazarus, and which, I think, captures what America should be.
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!
Yes, I know, America belonged to the indigenous people before Europeans came to this land and stole it from them and hurt these people. I know America has a tumultuous history and we’ve done good and bad things in the world. But we are a country who claims to value freedom above all else. We also value equality, or so we said in our Declaration of Independence when we took the first steps of becoming an independent nation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
America has never exactly been overwhelmingly kind to immigrants and refugees, but it’s part of our history that everyone, I think, from both sides of politics, take as an example of why America is great. We are a place that people dream about. We are a country people risk everything to get to, because they are seeking a better life. We are the “land of opportunity.”
And right now… it’s like Lady Liberty is in a cage. No one is free while even one of us is enslaved. Closing America’s borders to certain nations and people? What is happening to my country?
It’s hard for me to really believe that we are looked at as a land of opportunity, because I wish I could emigrate to a better country, a country that already upholds my personal values and principles. (Such as Sweden, perhaps.) But I know I’m not alone in America. I’m not the only American who believes that we should accept immigrants and refugees and provide more opportunities for the most vulnerable people. I’m not the only American who thinks we need to change a lot of things to improve the lives of our citizens, and believes in our responsibility to make things better for our planet.
I pledge allegiance to the flag for which it stands, one Nation, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.
We are so divided, though. Half of us is terrified of the other half. Republicans, Democrats, when did the divide between us become so great?
I am proud of our First Amendment to the Constitution. It protects our freedom of speech, of the press, of our right to assemble.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
We can use our voice, our right to assemble peacefully, our freedom of speech. We can speak out. We can protest.
I am sad and I am afraid for my country, and for the world. I know, on a logical level, that the world is getting better. Overall, things are getting better. But it’s hard to look at the big picture in a moment like this.
Let’s make America compassionate again. Please.