I won't lie to you, my heart is heavy today. I feel as if a dream has died, my idea of my country has died, I feel as if compassion and selflessness and truth are bleeding right before my eyes, the our better angels are in retreat.
How do I manage those feelings, how do I keep my feet on the ground and stay full of hope?
First, I sent a soccer ball to a child this morning from the refugee aid home page on Amazon. This child – he is eight – is a refugee from Syria, he is living not too far from me with his mother and sister, it took them four years to get here, all of their money, thousands of forms, and many interrogations. Their father, trapped in their home, cannot come join them now. I hope to see this boy soon and write about him.
This boy is named Mahdi, and he has always believed that America is a land of refugee for good people in distress, and I do not know what I will say to him, or to his mother and sisters when I meet him, I don't know how I will explain why my country would separate his family and condemn his father and turn it's back on so much suffering when we have so much.
I hope to use my meager gifts as a writer and photographer to show that these people are human beings not threats, not alien beings, they embody to me the very spirit and promise and glory of America. Aren't they the point?
I am so sorry that so many people are blind to history and reality and justify this cruelty and ignorance in the name of safety. Nothing could make any of us less safe, not for a moment.
In America, people argue now, they don't really talk or listen, I am realistic. My work will feel hopeless and impossible at times. A great creative challenge, and I love creative challenges. I will just have to get better and be better.
I have faith and am determined. I will do what I can when I can. Work with the wonderful people in the Mansion. Raise money for refugee families that made it through. Live by example, not by argument. All I can do is live my life.
Now I have to think more seriously about whether I can really pay taxes for persecute people in this way, can I really look in the mirror if I do that? If my money goes to enhance suffering and persecution?
The ghosts of the past will haunt me, my grandmother and uncles and so many millions of others for whom America was life itself, the promised land, not a selfish and fearful place of small and closed minds.
The corporations and CEO's have never been happier, the Wall Street Index has never been higher, the angry people never angrier, my country has never seemed smaller.
Today I re-dedicate myself to doing good, remaining hopeful, listening to others. Small acts of kindness, small acts of good.I will not feel overwhelmed, or succumb to despair. My life will never be an argument for others.
When I sent Mahdi the soccer ball, I felt very good. If you wish to make your own personal statement by aiding needy refugees, new to America and frightened and needy, you can visit the Amazon gift page of the US Committee on Refugees and Immigration and buy some spoons and plates.
Or soccer balls.
Hang in there. I am off to celebrate Maria's birthday. Back tomorrow.