No Marigolds for Us

In response to the missing, disappeared and mass graves of Mexico.

There are no marigolds for us
or candles to light our way.
No memories shared
or family visits;
No bread for a treat.

I long to see my little sister –
he, his beautiful wife.
That one has daughter, and
he, a family of five.

So many people searching;
So many of us lost.
Another October passes and
still no marigolds for us.

 

A Most Peaceful Dream

Flashes of light against the sky,
I envision something beautiful –
like a storm out on the horizon;
water drops pelting the land.

Thunder claps; it jars the room –
I cover my eyes to block the sound.

Then I feel a fear I’ve never felt
after all these years of storms.
A nightmare wraps around my neck
and steals away my breath.

“You’re only scared,” I tell myself,
and the dream changes shape.
The rumbles fade to whispering voices –
my body drifts across the room.

Outside the rain caresses me,
though I see it is not from the sky.
I feel the rest of a most peaceful dream –
is there finally quiet after the storm?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In response to the chemical attacks in Syria.

Life of Seeds

Thoughts on immigration

Seeds have the most wonderful life,
drifting to find some fertile soil to call home.
To breath the air, enjoy the sun,
perhaps bearing fruit of their own.
Sometimes landing almost where they started;
other times riding the wind far away.

No barriers or boundaries limit them,
and seeds have no need for rules.
The red seed settled next to the yellow one,
sharing the same daylight, drinking the same rain.
Sometimes they intermingle,
and the orange seed flies away.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My views on immigration.

The Greatest Delicacy

In response to the famine crisis in Africa and the Middle East.

Is it sweet like bint al sahn dipped in butter?
Or a sip of shai haleeb?
Like lahooh, does it give you energy?
Or fill your belly like ful?

Do the battles stop the hunger?
The oil quench your thirst?
While I pray for food,
you feed a different kind of appetite.
Power must be the greatest delicacy.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Inspired by The Economist article Return of the third horseman – Famine menaces 20m people in Africa.

That Moment (A Quiet Rebellion)

One second, unexpected –
that moment everything changes.

Waiting in line,
cars idle,
you speak of tomorrow’s game.

It’s another day, like yesterday,
until there’s a knock on the door.
Vested men, peering in,
and suddenly your father’s gone.

“This isn’t fair!”
“It isn’t right!”
But the vested ones do not care.

Alone you stand;
the school bell rings;
tears drench your cheeks.

A deep breath,
another second – this one more deliberate.
Your resolve is clear,
Your resolve is final –
You will change everything.

One second turns to years,
a quiet rebellion of your own.
You will make it right;
You will make it fair,
for you are here to stay.

That Moment Image
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Inspired by this Washington Post article.

 

Take Root

An observation on today’s political environment.

~~~~~~~~~

The thing about lies – they take root.
starting young & tender,
growing slowly, needing little sustenance.

Then they grow stronger, hungrier;
branching out, digging deeper
giving life to that above the surface.

Faster, bolder,
spreading further
taking all the oxygen
filling all the space
Growing
Growing

Until…
there is nowhere to go.
No nourishment to be found.

They struggle against boundaries.

Slowing

Slowing

Until they are unable to support the liar.

Take Root Image

A Death of Sorts

A poem for immigrant mothers fearing deportation

One of the reasons I was moved to start a blog was the push to rid our country of immigrants. I mean, honestly, we’re all immigrants from some point in time. Somewhere along the way someone way up the family tree made their way to America from somewhere else. There are few that are completely native, but it is not the majority by any means.

So what’s the deal? Why are people so offended that people are coming here from other countries? If you lived in another country and you were surrounded by war or famine or drug crimes wouldn’t you want to move away from that if you could? Of course you would. It’s a no brainer. So why is it so hard to understand that others would want to do the same?

And the stories that have been truly disturbing of late are the ones regarding Hispanic parents being taken away from their children – sometimes unexpectedly. Immigrant families are being told to develop a plan for their children in case they are deported without warning.

Isn’t that kind of like hearing from your doctor, “Yeah, you’re dying of cancer and it may happen tomorrow. Get your things in order so you’re kids aren’t left out in the cold?” Yeah, it’s exactly like that. I mean, technically, you’re still alive and perhaps you can help somewhat from your home country … perhaps. But It’s hard to raise a family when you’re hundreds or thousands of miles away.

Why are we splitting families apart? Why are families having to pray each time they are together they won’t be split apart? That’s not way to live, but unfortunately, that is how a large portion of our friends and neighbors are living right now.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A Death of Sorts

She isn’t dying, but it is a death of sorts –
for which she must prepare.

The documents authorized and clearly marked;
directions penned with greatest care.

Listing names and matching numbers;
she details a life without her.

But you cannot nurture nor protect
from the confines of a binder.

Plan they said, and plan she did;
but a poor substitute in her mind.

A stack of papers on a shelf
is the mother redefined.

It gives no hugs or goodnight kisses,
no tissues when they cry.

But if tomorrow comes and she is gone,
it serves as her goodbye.

No, she isn’t dying, but it is a death of sorts –
for it tears at her very heart.

What if she is taken without warning –
from her family she must depart?

Poem Inspired by this NPR story: Fearing Deportation, Families Plan For The Worst

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Fear in America – The Root of Our Discrimination

The Trail of Tears, slavery, internment camps, the Chinese Exclusion Act – America’s history is filled with discriminatory actions. Unfortunately, we can now add Trump’s travel ban against seven predominantly Muslim countries. And although his Mexican immigration executive order is not a ban, per se, we will see if it plays out that way in the long run.

Whether or not the ban survives in court, I am curious why this sort of discrimination continues to occur in our country. It is so prevalent in our history one must ask: Is America inherently bigoted?

I am certain there is some level of bigotry, but I do not believe it is an overwhelming majority. We are too diverse a nation for that to be the case. Additionally, in the past, the country managed to move toward acceptance and equal treatment of those targeted by these acts. It took many years in some cases, wars and protests, but eventually progress was made.

So perhaps it is something else that drives us to discriminate. It is my belief that you cannot correct a behavior if you don’t first identify and understand it. Although it would appear that these are simply acts of hate, the fact that we were able to overcome them means something drove the hate rather than hate being the foundation of the issue.

I think George Washington Carver was correct when he said, “Fear of something is at the root of hate for others, and hate within will eventually destroy the hater.” In my own conversations with people on both sides of the political divide, everyone says they have a sense of fear. The fear varies from “wanting my country back” on the left to “we’re losing our country and values” on the right, but there is fear nonetheless.

But where does this fear come from? What drives us to discriminate on such a large scale like we have with previous acts and with Trump’s recent executive orders?

To me the answer is a relatively simple one. Our politicians, who utilize a win-at-all-costs mentality, are the root of our fears and therefore the root of our bigotry. They play on emotions to win votes and build momentum around their campaigns. As campaigns grow longer and longer, the rhetoric builds to the point that crowds are chanting political mottos that openly discriminate against large portions of our nation. And once you have built that level fervor, you cannot renege without committing political suicide.

Around this time last year, PBS Newshour spoke to Stephen Walt of Harvard University and Beverly Gage of Yale University about the role fear politics have played in past elections, as well as their expectations for the 2016 campaign. They provided practical solutions for dealing with the politics of fear, including:

  • Pressing politicians to provide details on the issues and solutions,
  • Framing issues as problems to be solved, and
  • Not allowing fearmongering

It’s important as citizens that we not allow our politicians – whether in office or running for office – to build our concerns to the point of hate and intolerance. Unfortunately, that is where we find ourselves now. If we do not gain control of this, however, we run the risk, as Carver said, of bringing about our own self-destruction.

Last month, The Economist Intelligence Unit downgraded the US from a full democracy to a flawed democracy, meaning we no longer have faith in our government to govern properly and we are no longer the world’s poster child of democracy. Although these issues were around before Trump began his campaign, his behavior continues to erode our faith in government, our faith in each other, and I fear the cost may be our democracy.

God Is in The Details: The US Ban on Refugees

“But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?”
– 1 John 3:17

Does God’s love abide in America? For so many here, the US is the epitome of a Christian nation. Yet this country continues to turn its back on its brothers in need.

Since 2015, more than 60 million people have been displaced worldwide; Syria alone has 6.6 million within its own borders and another 4.8 million in nearby countries. The people of Syria have been ravaged by war for nearly six years. They have lost their families, their homes and any other semblance of a normal life.

But rather than lend a helping hand, yesterday, our new president signed an order to ban those who need us most. Now, I am not devoutly religious, but I grew up in a Christian home. There is one thing I know: You cannot be a Christian only when it’s convenient or twist it to fit your desires. You either live by the word or you don’t. Yesterday’s executive order clearly shows that we do not.

Sadly, I don’t believe it was by accident that this order was signed on Holocaust Remembrance Day. It was meant to send a message that we are slowly redesigning the fabric of America – a fabric that lacks color and consists of only one moral fiber. Without uttering the words, we let the world know that we value certain human lives more than others. And with that, we closed our hearts to millions in need.


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/195306938″>REFUGE | Human stories from the refugee crisis</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/magnacartatv”>Magna Carta</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

But why are Americans so frightened? Has people’s faith become so fragile and tenuous that it cannot exist in the presence of another religion? Or is it simply that our politics have overpowered beliefs or corrupted them in some way? I do not believe in bringing religion into politics, but I also know politics are about people, and religion is a large part of our people’s lives. And when it is balanced and coming from the right place, we generally are better for it.

This week I saw the best of humankind as people traveled to south Georgia to help families recover from our recent deadly tornadoes. I see this year after year. People drive long distances to help others in need – people who may or may not share their religious beliefs. Yet, we cannot do the same for our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world.

The people of Syria want the same things as the people of south Georgia – to return to some level of normalcy in a place they can call home. They want to regain everything they have lost. If we can take care of our family here in Georgia, why can’t we offer that same hand to our family in other lands?

I do not believe this country has turned down the darkest path just yet, but we are letting our politics and fears overpower who we truly are as a nation. Americans help those in need. We always have; I hope we always do. We are a fair and loving people when we are at our best. But right now, we are not at our best.

We have allowed a few to fill us with doubt and darkness. But we are a strong nation with strong people who have always shed light on those in need. I ask if you are reading this, listen to the people in this video without any filter of politics or religion. See them only as the humans that they are – like a neighbor down the street.

America, we have all of the world’s goods. Are we strong enough to share them?

To Mexico with Love

Yesterday’s news on immigration and the southern border wall was difficult to watch. I was sad and angry at the same time … our new president and his damn wall. I read the online outrage from the Hispanic community and I was ashamed, knowing it was justified and true.

Last night I began a “letter” to the people of Mexico so I could express all that I was feeling and to let them know that many of us care. But today, he tweeted. My sadness turned to anger. So instead of waxing poetic about our president’s ill-advised trade wars, I want to help fight off his attacks directly.

To win this battle, we will have to fight fire with fire. If his playground is social media, we will take it over. Where he tells alternative facts, we’ll tell the truth. When he threatens deportation, we will help people find shelter.

Below are several tidbits of information that I have gathered for social media use. I shortened content to tweet length so it can be copied and pasted. For longer posts such as Facebook, click the link and copy from the site. I’ve included source links to provide legitimacy. I recommend you use them, too, if space permits. I have divided content into the administration’s key talking points — deportation, crime, jobs and trade — and provided a few other categories just for good measure. It is not a lot, but it is a something.

American Views on Immigration

  • 72% of Americans surveyed want children who came to the US illegally to stay & apply for legal status. http://pewrsr.ch/2kzxM1
  • 6 in 10 people think it’s important to establish a way for most here illegally to stay legally. http://pewrsr.ch/2kzxM1Y

Deportation – Immigrant Resources

Crime

  • Harvard sociologist says higher immigration & language diversity decreases neighborhood homicide rates. http://econ.st/2k898o8
  • Harvard sociologist says Mexican immigrants less prone to violence than native-born whites or blacks. http://econ.st/2k898o8
  • First generation immigrants less likely to commit crimes than non-Hispanic, native-born whites. http://pewrsr.ch/2jXAL12
  • Research shows second generation immigrants assimilate to American crime culture. http://pewrsr.ch/2jXAL12
  • Only 1.6% immigrant males 18-39 are incarcerated, compared to 3.3% of native born Americans. http://bit.ly/2jaq91I
  • Mexican-born men 18-39 three times LESS likely to be incarcerated in the US than native-born Amercian men. http://bit.ly/2jaq91I
  • Immigrant less likely than native-born to engage in violent or antisocial behavior. http://bit.ly/2jaq91I
  • Immigrants are less likely than native-borns to be repeat offenders among high-risk adolescents. http://bit.ly/2jaq91I

Immigration Rates and Population Statistics

Trade

Jobs

  • Nearly 5 million US jobs depend on trade with Mexico. http://bit.ly/2jvDMXu
  • If trade between US & Mexico halts, 4.9 million Americans would be out of work. http://bit.ly/2jvDMXu
  • 1 in 29 US jobs depends on preserving an economic relationship with Mexico. http://theatln.tc/2kra0BO
  • US & Mexican companies are creating joint ventures; each side playing a different role – impossible to untie. http://theatln.tc/2kra0BO
  • Only 13% of manufacturing jobs lost from 2000-2010 were due to trade; 87% due to productivity increases. http://theatln.tc/2kra0BO
  • Research shows that a 10% increase in employment at a US-owned plant in Mexico results in a 1.3% increase in US workforce. http://theatln.tc/2kra0BO
  • NAFTA creates 200,000 export-related jobs annually that pay 15-20% more on average than the jobs lost. http://on.cfr.org/2jvPUrF
  • If exports to Mexico slow or the country adds tariffs, the Rust Belt states will be some of the hardest hit. http://bit.ly/2jDy6se