In some neighborhoods, there are signs asking drivers to drive as if their own children were in the vicinity. I would ask us to consider this same advice when we speak about ”the other.” No child picks their parents or the lifestyle they are going to experience before becoming an adult. Many of us are fortunate, and we are nurtured in not only loving environments, but also those in which the basic necessities are available. Perhaps there is an occasional luxury or two along the way. We also know that we are incredibly influenced by our environments.
It is difficult enough to deal with the hand that is dealt without children being prejudged based upon ethnicity, religion or economic status. I don’t love paying bills for people I believe have made poor choices, but I would rather have the ability to pay than need help. On that, I feel so blessed. I am grateful that my precious grandchildren have what they need with so many loving arms to hold and lead them. They know they are special and they know we are eager to just listen. If I could, I would give that to every child in the world.
I am afraid of terrorism, but I am not going to assume everyone from a certain religion is going to grow up to do me harm. I believe you should enter a country with the documentation required, just as I am required to do, but I am not sure how to solve the problem of the children who are already here. I do know, from a past situation, that if we want to make a political statement, we will change all kinds of situations. What comes to mind is the child from Cuba, whose mother drowned on a boat and the father was in Cuba. Instead of sending him right back to the other parent, which would have happened to an American child, the kid from an “enemy country,” was wined and dined unlike our poor children who are from this country—just to do an in your face to Cuba.
We have a hard time supporting our own poor, but when I see the faces of the escaping refugees from Syria, watching the reactions of the families who are standing right at the gate as it shuts leaving them still on the other side, is heart breaking. I want to harden my heart, and intellectually I can rationalize that I have to worry about my own, but if a person can just say, “Not my problem.”—Like the Tin Man, they should be off to see the Wizard.
I can’t change everyone’s situation, but I can refrain from making inflammatory remarks that could make “the others” feel badly about themselves. I need to resist placing all members of a group into one representative collection of characteristics, because I have stereotyped them. I can admit sometimes my discomfort with different cultures is because I know nothing about them. My ignorance is my problem, which I must resolve for myself—or not, but I can’t hold that new group responsible for making me feel warm and fuzzy. Again, I must choose not to inflame situations by making my issues burdens for strangers.
For every unjust label that is put into the universe, some children will carry the burden of being perceived as unworthy, undeserving, and incapable. Words hurt, and the more we become connected with technology, the more different groups discover what we are saying. As we deal with our frustrations, please ask ourselves are we making statements about other children that we wouldn’t mind being made about our own family members, if not, let’s slow down and proceed with caution.