Thursday, August 07, 2008

Freedom

I was ruminating on the idea of freedom today. I was prompted by thoughts of what it's like to travel outside the US, to feel like a foreigner and have "natives" stare at you strangely, or balk at you in disgust that you don't even know how to say "hello" in their language. It's quite uncomfortable, lonely and slightly depressing for those who choose to relocate to a foreign land.

I was thinking how the United States of America was founded upon the idea of freedom and welcoming those from foreign lands, but how that ideal seems lost these days. Are we really that welcoming? Do we go out of our way to offer freedom to those who can no longer live freely in their native countries? Or do we mutter things like "why don't you learn English!" and "go back to where you came from" under our breathes, like we're entitled to more than the next human being?

My home right now is in the middle of a very diverse, very multi-ethnic area. There are many opportunities for me to be welcoming to those from far away lands. Am I doing that? and what does it mean to others when I do?? I know what it means for our friends we met last week when they finally feel like France or Belgium or Spain is really home for them. It's a feeling of belonging and connection. They are no longer just foreigners, they are members of a community. And I think that many times they are proud to be accepted.

As I was pondering all these things, a story popped up on CNN about the flag bearer for the US in Beijing. I LOVE this story and was really moved that it flowed with my thought for today. Imagine being referred to as a "Lost Boy" only to be accepted in this way by a country that could offer you freedom. I'm sure there is much more to his story, his struggle, and I'm sure it wasn't as easy or as wonderful all the time as he makes it sound. I was just moved that his teammates accepted him in this meaningful way. It makes me proud to be an American and know that we are a country that still offers open arms.

The New Colossus

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 imprisoned lightning,
and her name Mother of Exiles.

From her beacon-hand 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 teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Emma Lazarus (1849-1887)
(inscription inside the Statue of Liberty)

1 comment:

A- Truckers- Wife said...

wow!! thanks for sharing your thoughts.. and that story..It's SO true. I think we may all be guilty of some sort.......I think we are not as welcoming as we should be. I'm sure all of our famalies have stories of ancestors coming to America for freedom of some sorts...and we know about their struggles then..some things have changed from then and now..but I think that one thing might reamin the same is...that of many Americans not accepting the foreigners that come here fleeing their country. We should be embracing them for their bravery not condemming them for not being able to speak english very well. I'm sure it wasn't easy for them to make this trek to an unknown land..where they hope to be accepted, but find that they are rejected. How sad. Thanks again :) God Bless!!!!