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The Golden Rule

Blog by Sr. Pat Connick, OP

“Not like the brazen 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, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, 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-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

                                            --"The New Colossus,” Emma Lazarus

When I was in public high school, we learned about the waves of immigration that took place in the late 19th and early 20th centuries here in America.  We learned about ports of entry, in particular, Ellis Island in New York City, not far from the Statue of Liberty, that “mighty woman with a torch.”  I found out through conversation with my parents that, indeed, my father’s parents had come through that very port in 1893 from Ireland. (My mother’s parents had already come from Germany in the 1840’s.)   We also were encouraged to memorize the second half of this poem by Emma Lazarus, which was written to raise money for the construction of a pedestal for the Statue of Liberty.  

We need to screen properly, and with dignity, the people who seek to come to our country. 

We do not need to fear them simply for coming, for being displaced from their original countries by circumstances none of us would want to life through!

We need to think about what to do once they come to us. How can we prepare a welcome?

We do not need to call them an “invasion” or immediate cast suspicion upon their motivations without hearing what they have to say.

The myth is that we do not have enough to go around.

The truth is that together we will always have an abundance because of our synergy.

That where historically our strength as a nation has come forth…

I’m asking is that perhaps we all could try to follow more closely the “Golden Rule”, found in some closely related version in every religion:  “Do unto others what you would have them do unto you.” I find myself asking, “How would I want to be treated, if God forbid, I found myself in circumstances like…?”  

Indeed, my case, I need to do what has already been done for my family over 100 years ago:  I want “to lift a lamp beside the golden door” for those now 100 years later are experiencing the same thing that my ancestors already did. 

Can we not find a civilized way to discuss this issue for the sake of our brothers and sisters who still are fleeing oppression?  Will we not find that by opening our country to those who wish to live safe and productive lives, we will find new creative energy as a nation, just as we have in the past?

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