At one time the poem below (one many of us know in part but few have read in full) was at the core of the aspirational nature of “America” as a concept. It reflected a moral vision of who we were as a people in relation to the rest of the world.
But today I would ask… When did we abandon this vision to fear and elitism and isolation? When did we accept that it is more important to pile on ever higher stacks of govts programs for those already here, rather than keep our gates open to those who strive to come here and make for themselves a better life? When did we relinquish brave adventurism and entrepreneurship, and become such snobs, requiring delicate care and protection?
I do not long for past days (there was plenty wrong with those past days) but I do long for that spirit of community and hospitality and graciousness and humility enshrined so powerfully on the Statue of Liberty. A spirit that suffered no “us vs them” attitude but instead offered open arms to those in need and those with a dream of a better life for themselves and their posterity.
What will it take for us as a nation to recommit to opening our arms to our world?
“The New Colossus” ~ Emma Lazarus
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 the 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!”