Will You Look Away?

We all see it. We all hear it. The images of children stripped away from their families. Their cries as they lose the only family they know and are alone in a strange environment. Imagine their heartache, their despair, their loneliness, their trauma.  The question now is simple. Will you look away? Or will you stare reality down until you cannot see through your own tears?

We all see it. We all hear it. The images of children stripped away from their families. Their cries as they lose the only family they know and are alone in a strange environment. Imagine their heartache, their despair, their loneliness, their trauma. 

Now imagine how you would feel if you and your family were fleeing a dangerous and violent home to seek asylum in another country. Imagine the fear of attempting to cross a border and being picked up by a patrol. Imagine the terror that comes with not knowing what the immediate future will hold for you and your family. Imagine the heartbreak and anguish as you watch your children taken from you. Imagine the fear and terror that your children experience as they are removed from your arms and your presence.

Can you imagine this without tears forming? Can you begin to comprehend how you would feel if this were you and your family? Can you find any justification for why this is necessary and acceptable in our nation?

As a parent, I cannot begin to imagine this scenario without being shaken to my core. The very thought of my children being taken from me and not knowing what will happen to them is enough to make me cry and become upset and angry. I know that I am not the only American who feels this way.

As a kid, I remember the fear that comes with being separated from your parents. I have witnessed that in my own two young children when they lose sight of their mommy or daddy when out in public. The long-term effects of trauma that these children are experiencing because of this forced separation will be significant, as presented to Trump from the American Psychological Association. 

Yet, here we are, bearing witness to another hideous part of our nation's already long history of cruelty and inhumanity to those who are not white. Instead of seeking to help those who are fleeing for the safety of their family, we divide their families and incarcerate them. We provide them protection from the physical dangers that they faced in their home country but expose them to an unfathomable and irreparable level of emotional and mental harm.

The question now is simple. Will you look away? Or will you stare reality down until you cannot see through your tears?

It is easy to look away and choose to ignore these events. Nobody wants to accept that this is currently happening in our country. Acknowledging and informing ourselves is actually traumatizing to ourselves. It is hard to see and hear about the way innocent people and families are treated, but we cannot ignore it.

Ignoring these events makes us complicit in these events. Ignoring the treatment of refugees who are seeking safety means that we are okay with what is going on. As an educator, father, and person of faith, I find it incredibly hard to believe that many of us are okay with what is happening.

Instead, we must keep our eyes open to reality. I have cried and hurt for these families, but my feelings are irrelevant when compared to the pain these families are currently experiencing. Very few people in this country have personal ordeals that are similar. This is why it is so vital for us to remain informed. The only way we can fight for change is to know what is happening.

We feel helpless right now, but we are not powerless. Our voices have strength, especially when multiplied with those of our fellow Americans. We can call our United States Senators and Representatives, (202) 224-3121, and demand families be reunited. We can make small donations to groups like RAICES (Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services) to help ensure that the families impacted are getting help. We can organize, protest, and stand in solidarity. We can have real and difficult conversations with one another to brainstorm possible actions. We are only limited by our own willingness and imagination to help. 

We must fight and help because if we do not, evil will win. History is littered with stories of those with the power to help sitting idly by. This will not be the case. We will not let that happen, not in our country, not now.