Showing Our Humanness
In the early 80’s, my husband and I were in a motorcycle accident that put me in the hospital for a week. My two young children, ages 2 and 4, were in the car behind us and while they didn’t see what happened, they felt the effects of the event on their little lives.
One moment they were with Mommy at church, and minutes later, on a warm summer night, she was suddenly ripped from their lives, like wrapping paper from a box, leaving them scared, confused and crying.
They didn’t see me during my hospital stay, as the rules back then prevented children under the age of 5 from visiting patients. They didn’t talk to me on the phone; this was the time before everyone had a cell phone. All they had was their injured dad and a close friend, assuring them that Mom would be home soon.
What Goes Through Their Minds?
I can’t even begin to imagine what was going on in their sweet minds, as they wondered what happened to me. How do you comfort a child who is wailing in the night for the one person who brings peace and the feeling of safety, when she is nowhere to be found?
During the past several weeks, my mind has brought me back to that week of separation, as the world witnesses a much more painful separation of parents and their children. Children are being ripped from their mother’s arms as they try to escape from one ugly country by dreaming of a better life in another country that only offers a continuation of their terrible nightmare.
Many will say this is a political post, and politicians will tweet that laws are being broken, and their hands are tied. The truth is, the way these women, children, and families are treated is so far past politics, it has become a humanity issue.
Basic Humanity and Well Being
This week I flew to the east coast, and as the plane began its descent into Newark airport, we flew past Lady Liberty, and her words echoed in my mind:
“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-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
She reminded me that we are all immigrants of this land and our ancestors had the same hopes and dreams of those coming to our country today; hopes of a better life for their families and a place where their children would live in safety, with opportunities for a better future.
I sometimes feel that we, who have the privilege of living in this country, have forgotten where we came from and don’t even try to understand what other people must endure.
What if we tried for just a moment to be empathetic?
What if the current situation were happening to YOU and your family? What if you lived in an area where there were terrible dangers and life-threatening issues where you feared for your life?
Wouldn’t you do whatever you could to protect your family? If you heard of another area, a place where you had the chance to give your children a life in which they would be able to sleep at night without fear and violence, wouldn’t you risk fleeing to that area where your children would be safe?
I dare say most, if not all of us, would go to the ends of the earth to protect our children.
If you can really try to walk a mile in the shoes of these people coming to the United States for help, you will also realize other hurdles have been created for them once they are reunited.
Ramifications of Children Forcibly Separated from Parents
My children and I were reunited after a week of separation. But there were consequences of us being apart.
My youngest had night terrors for weeks, and every evening when I went outside to empty the garbage, he would stand at the door screaming hysterically in terror. To him, the night had taken me from him and he feared that it would return. It took months for him not to be gripped with fear over the possibility of losing his mommy again.
So, what will happen to the children who were removed from their parents under the zero-tolerance policy? Even once they are reunited, there will still be ramifications of this inhuman act.
Like all of us, kids have a physical response to stress and when they don’t have the comfort of someone they trust, like their parents, fear will become increasingly intense which can cause physical and emotional damage.
The security, safety, and trust needed in the lives of these children have all been cracked and damaged, and long-term effects will be evident, even for those who have endured short-term separations.
“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.” ~ Dalai Lama
As of this writing, Donald Trump has finally signed an executive order ending the separation of children and parents. But there is still work to do because families are still being detained.
Following the #endfamilydetention on Twitter, we can find events, opportunities and ways to make our voices heard.
In the years to come, history books will be written about the inhumanity our country exhibited these past few weeks and we will have generations asking us what we did in response to this current crisis.
We have reached a time when human beings need to become humans doing. It’s time to take a stand and fight for the rights of one another.
“We were all humans until
Race disconnected us
Religion separated us
Politics divided us &
Wealth classified us.” ~ Anonymous