“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
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
Send these, the homeless,
tempest-tost to me,
I lift my
lamp beside the golden door!”
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
The myth is that we do not have enough to go
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…
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…?”
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.
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?