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savethehumans (2)The roses still sweeten the air under our oh-so-blue skies. God knows I’d rather focus on the little things in my life, especially on what’s going right. The fact I get to choose whether to choose outrage or calm speaks of the privilege of the life I lead, even with the challenges I face—including those I don’t share in public (or even in many private) spaces.

In my day job, I read lab manuals. What’s not to love about some clear rational thoughts? Although, these days I am increasingly aware that certain “trigger” words might keep someone from learning the science in the books. Such strange times in which we live.

For whatever reasons, for the past 20 years or so, in my spare time, I have been drawn to reading fictional books that challenge my comfort level—in short, that allow me to appreciate my own nonfictional life. About regimes changing over and genocide (e.g., Cambodia, Iran, and Rwanda), but mostly I read about Nazi Germany (and the various countries they invaded) and slavery in the USA. Happy stuff—not.

But it allows me to put a human face on those who are crushed by those in power—I try to understand the lives of people who either never had power or people who had their power taken away. And these readings remind me to be concerned for the powerless and to know that they are people like me, who want the best for their families.

What happens in almost every instance of these awful tilts in power is that the group at the top works hard to dehumanize those they consider the Other. Frankly, it would seem as if the authors of the books were lacking in creativity and just writing the same story again and again. Sadly, the power differentials in the plots are not fictional but historic.

One of the biggest ways these powermongers dehumanize and destroy the Other is by separating families. Divide and conquer. Make it so they must make subhuman, no-win decisions if they do wish to stay together.

This has not been the way of the America of my birth. But especially with Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ May 7 declaration (that every person entering America illegally will be prosecuted and those who arrive with children, will have them taken from them), it is now.

Unconscionable.

Don’t give me that argument that they deserve everything they get because they are breaking the law. It’s false equivalency to equate those whose only crime is illegally seeking refuge with people who have committed additional crimes. If this attempt to access our borders is their first recorded trespass, shouldn’t the punishment be no more than to send them away from our borders?

However, if we are going to insist on prosecuting them, even ignoring that many of those are arriving seeking asylum from violence of many kinds, the additional tactic of separating children from their parents still remains an action similar to the tactics from the pages of evil regimes.

As of late, We the People are being told not to worry about people in high places who ignore ethical boundaries or break laws, maybe even commit high treason, but these people crossing the borders deserve the sentence of losing their children? For the crime of wanting to protect their children?

There has to be a better way to protect our borders without dehumanizing those whom we seek to keep out.

blackandwhiteberlinmonument

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Berlin

I fear for these children and parents. What we are doing to these people makes me especially afraid of who and what America is becoming—please tell me that we are not trying to write our own evil storyline.

Because this is the sort of plot that never should play out in real life in a country such as ours, which has long been a leader in improving human rights. If we act as if the rules of human decency only apply to how we treat our own children within our borders, we need to reconsider who is truly subhuman.

Culpable (guilty),” whisper the parents in the border courtrooms.

Culpable indeed. This should not be considered a political statement—this is a human rights statement.

What are you going to plead?

 

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(c) 2011 Trina Lambert

Some years teach us more than we ever hoped to know.

The year I learned my father’s cancer had returned, this time lodging in a lethal location, was the year I discovered just how little real control I had over most things beyond my outlook. My daughter was experiencing seizures we hadn’t been able to manage yet and my son’s AD/HD and his personality were railing against a school day structured the exact opposite of how his brain operated for him at that age.

Yet, I thought I lived in a world where planes did not fly into buildings and cause them to crumble to the ground.

Nonetheless, when the news outside my own home crashed into my home, it felt almost surreal to try to understand that so many homes on the other side of our country were now broken up with private loss. Yet these were fellow Americans who had gone to work or taken a plane trip—and then just fallen from the sky.

For whatever reason, I did not focus on anger even though none of them had really fallen from the sky—they had been forced to the ground by people whose hatred claimed to justify the unjustifiable.

No, what I felt on those early crisp blue September mornings—when the skies remained eerily silent and flags had been planted up and down our street—was our collective sadness. I, like others around the country, gathered in community in prayer services. Our togetherness raised in me a sense of hope. As distracted as I was by my own worries, the actions of so many to restore what it meant to be American buoyed me up.

Maybe I lost track of it all as I needed to retain focus on my own loved ones’ problems, but I don’t know how soon I started losing faith in our ability to work together. Maybe it was as simple as weekly driving by a house displaying a large hand-painted sign that declared “We will never forget—or forgive!” and starting to discover we weren’t as united as I had believed.

Ten years later, I am an expert in knowing that so much of control in life is an illusion. My father’s cancer took him six months after 9/11. Schooling for my son has remained challenging, despite his giftedness. My daughter’s seizures were finally controlled, only to be followed by bouts of depression that continue to linger. Our country has had troops fighting this subversive war of terrorism for most of this past decade.

In some ways I’ve learned to accept those situations—or at least to keep myself focused on what I can and cannot control about them, saving my actions for those that might bring about change.

But what breaks my heart most is how divided we as a nation have become. We dishonor those who did not get to return home that day when we cannot treat each other with respect and work on compromise. The people who removed our collective illusions of control that bright September morning did not believe in compromise either. Despite reports to the contrary, our founding fathers did actually compromise on many matters when they put together this country.

We can attempt to be prepared for outside attacks, but we cannot control what those people think about us. However, as long as we continue to divide ourselves, the terrorists have won—by setting us on the path to our own self-destruction.

Wouldn’t it be great if this were the year when we learned that what we can control is how we treat our own fellow citizens, even when we disagree?

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