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Lance Simmens Headshot

A Question of Morality

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Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses, yearning to breath free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door

If ever there were words that could better capture the essence and the hope and opportunity of this society, I am at a loss to recall them. Emblazoned on that magnificent edifice in New York harbor is an invitation to all who strive to either escape economic strife, religious and political persecution, the threat of physical oppression or gamble all they have to secure a better life for their families to all who are willing to participate in the democratic experiment that represents a degree of freedom that many could only dream of. That is US, that is who we pretend to be, a refuge for the oppressed, a safe harbor from the stormy seas of persecution and injustice.

That America is in serious trouble right now. We are hurting, and the dysfunctional state of affairs that has paralyzed our ability to project the strength and determination of a free society dedicated to opportunity for all is reflected in an assortment of ailments that weaken not only us but other nations as well. We have allowed partisan political concerns to overwhelm our sense of self and unless we engage in a significant recalibration of our moral compass we run the risk of becoming a "paper tiger," directionless and long on rhetoric but short on action.

One can recite a litany of issues that are currently plaguing our society but none more clearly illustrates the diminishment of moral judgment and value than the catastrophic situation occurring on the Texas border. How in the name of God, or whatever higher power one may ascribe to, can this disproportionately prosperous country seriously consider turning refugee children away from our welcoming arms when the dangerous consequences of returning them is well-known and documented. Would any amongst us not sacrifice everything to ensure at least the prospect of safety for our children? Of course not yet here we stand on the precipice of doing just that.

This is a travesty unfolding before our very eyes. Forget the knucklehead governor in Texas; he is even too ridiculous to take seriously and not worth the time insulting. But, Mr. President, you are the leader of the free world; sure, you have a most onerously difficult set of political circumstances to deal with, but to shrink from the responsibilities you have as an honest and decent human being, as a loving parent, defiles the principles that all who voted for you are beholden to. Turning these children away would be a capitulation of moral responsibility accompanied by incalculable damage to everything that this great nation stands for. I fear you are walking into another trap set by those who will stop at nothing to deny you even the pretense of accomplishment. This is just another case where you are not afforded the luxury of finding a win-win solution. That, unfortunately, is the hand you have been dealt.

There is an international human rights component to this issue as well. It is appalling that at the same time we are flirting with denying water to poor residents in Detroit we are even discussing the prospect of turning children away from our shores. Where are all those pious, self-righteous, Bible-thumping, and God-fearing Christians who at the drop of a hat are willing and anxious to proselytize about the responsibilities of a Christian nation? They ought to be outraged at even the thought of turning these children of God away from the land of opportunity.

I must admit I am not one of these chosen few but I do consider myself to be an adherent of the principles of religious compassion and I am outraged. In my humble estimation to not be outraged is to be less than human, religion aside. We as a society must resolve who and what we are and stand for. If we do not stand by the words inscribed on Lady Liberty maybe we ought to just give her back to the French? The hypocrisy is palpable. So, Mr. President, summon all your inner strength to resist the temptation of using these children as pawns in a political game of chess. It simply is not worth it. Figure out a way to protect these children and provide all those who reside within these borders the freedom and opportunity that is the very lifeblood of our establishment and existence.

Let those words guide our actions and show the world that we are as compassionate in times of hardship as in times of abundance. Many would sacrifice everything to have the hardships we endure.