Do you still see it?
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-tossed to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
~ Emma Lazarus
Talk about painting a mental picture…
That poem helped to raise the money that built the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.
The statue itself was a gift from France, and tourists and visitors from all over the world can still read that promise before they begin the long climb upwards, to look out over New York city.
Well, not precisely from all over the world. Not any more.
Not if you’re from one of 7 predominantly Muslim countries that Donald Trump banned from entering America over the weekend.
What is happening to us?
Where did the America symbolized by the Statue of Liberty go?
When did we become such a frightened people that refugees fleeing slaughter scare us to death?
When did we lose our confidence, our spirit of generosity that offered hope to the hopeless?
America is still seen as that hope to an overwhelming number of the world’s most desperate people.
That’s the thing. America is more than a country.
America is an idea. America is a promise.
This is an ugly time in our country, when the mirror we hold up to each other reflects back hatred and fear, selfishness, profanity and discord, rage and self-righteousness.
But it doesn’t have to be, and you don’t have to be part of that cynicism and xenophobia.
You don’t have to spread fear and doubt.
You have a choice.
Never forget that ours is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
Our government works for us!
And when it betrays our trust, when it discards our founding principles, we can demand change.
And if they don’t listen, we must vote them out.
All of them.
This is America, the land of the free, the home of the brave.
Not the land of the terrified and home of the selfish.
It’s our time to pick up the colors hoisted aloft by the Greatest Generation through joint sacrifice never asked of us.
It’s our time to prove our courage.
It’s our time to protect our democracy.
It’s our time to stand up and be counted.
To say, loudly and often, “This will not stand!”
Not in our America. Not in our time.