If I were one of “the tired, the poor…”

I hear a lot of statements to the effect that people who want to emigrate to the US should do it legally…that there is no excuse for illegal entry. In a perfect world, I agree. But unfortunately, our world is not perfect.

Compared to many in the world, I live a life of privilege. I have had the privilege of a good education and been able to work at jobs that pay decently. I have a home, clothing, enough for my family to eat (and to spare), access to medical care…and I do not spend my days worrying about my children or grandchildren being targeted by gangs as drug runners or sex slaves—or dying from malnutrition. I do not worry about my home being shot up or about bombs going off in my street. I can drive around my town safely without worrying about IEDs or car bombs or random shootings (mostly, anyway).

I cannot imagine living in a place where that is not true.

I honestly do not know what I would do if I lived in a place with the opposite of those conditions. If it were just me, that would be one thing. But if there were any other option that I could see for my children and grandchildren, I think I would take it—legal or otherwise.

And for many of the world’s people, there is not a legal option. Either because of lack of education, lack of money, lack of access to government offices—or the corruption of those offices… If all I had was my feet—and the hope that there must be a better world somewhere—I think I would gather up what I could and start walking.

Yes, I think our immigration system needs to be overhauled. Yes, I think we need to do what we can to help stabilize governments where many of these folks are coming from.

But at the same time, I would hope that we would have some empathy for those who are trying to find safety and a better future for their children and grandchildren—and I would hope that we would read again…and be willing to live out…the poem by Emma Lazarus that is inscribed on the Statue of Liberty:Statue of Liberty seen from the Circle Line ferry, Manhattan, New York

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!”


I’ve been thinking about this the last couple of days…

What does it mean to come face to face with your own mortality? I haven’t been having problems lately, but my son-in-law is facing heart surgery next week–a double by-pass. Granted, he’s about a year and a half older than my husband (and that’s a whole ‘nother story!), but it still makes you stop and think.

At one point, it seemed like life stretched on forever before me. There was plenty of time to do everything I thought I wanted to. Now? Well, there are fewer years ahead–a lot fewer…and still a lot of things that I’ve never gotten around to doing.

So…do I try to cram them all into the years I have left? I don’t think I can! So which ones are top priority? Which ones are dreams that I’ve put off, thinking “Well, I’ve got plenty of time to pursue that”?

Am I too old to pursue them? I don’t think so…after all, Grandma Moses didn’t start painting until she was in her 80s! So age isn’t the issue.

I suppose in some ways fear is. Fear that I don’t have time to practice…fear that I’ve waited too long…that I’m not good enough…

But there’s also the flip side. I’m old enough that in a lot of ways I don’t really care what others think… And sometimes age has the added plus of folks saying, “Wow! If she can do that at her age, so can I!”

I’m still working–at a job I mostly enjoy.  So I guess the question really is “What do I want to take the time to focus on in my spare time?”

Issues that bring you face-to-face with your own mortality have a way of helping to bring things into focus!