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Friday, February 3, 2017

Do You Swear?

Things are changing very quickly in the world I thought I once knew. I guess that is how it is, the world is constantly changing, but it had never been a threat to me before. Now it is. Even as refugees struggle to make sense of their new reality that won't allow them entry into the US for at least 3-4 months, I face the possibility of also having what I thought was stable be in jeopardy.

I hold European passports but I live currently in the Middle East. Though my country is not one of the banned ones, it is close enough that should the travel ban expand to include others, rumour speculates that it will be on that list. I just read an article that talked about the former Norwegian PM who was questioned at a US airport because he had been on a trip to Iran two years ago. While I thought my perceived elite citizenships would allow me to continue to travel in and out of the US without challenges, now I'm becoming very concerned about the future.

What amazes me is that people are able to defend the executive order with a straight face. Perhaps they never stood in line in the cold outside a tall metal barred gate, waiting to be let in only to face the sternest of faces behind a glass window, barking out questions without empathy as they were interviewed for a visa that would change their destiny. Perhaps they never stepped outside their small town in the Midwest or the South, never ate a meal with someone who spoke a different language than them, or cried when the latest shooting happened in a city they'd never been but was in a country close to their heart. Perhaps they did not understand that the black and white strokes on a paper, seemingly to protect the innocent was actually destroying the hopes and dreams of countless children. Perhaps their rational logic kept them warm at night and able to callously negate the stories of humanity, citing it as an emotional reaction.

I wonder if I'm the only person who feels somewhat helpless against this tidal wave of prejudice coming from a country that prides itself on being built by immigrants. The Statue of Liberty should hide her face in shame for no longer can she welcome the tired huddled masses. Yet in the midst of this tyranny, there is still a flicker of hope. The thousands of US citizens who are outraged whether those who were ready to welcome refugee families or those who could not place the banned languages on a map. Each one who stands up for justice and demands that, while the borders are protected, equal representation is given to bring in those families who have struggled for years to immigrate to freedom is a beacon of light in the abyss of night.

As for me, I watch the news and I wait. I do not know if the next time I step up to the bullet-proof window and hand my passport over for inspection, if it will be the last time I step on US soil. I do not know if he will smile and say Welcome to the United States or Right this way, ma'am, we have some questions to ask you. I have to trust that my God is bigger than a world leader and can overrule and direct even in the midst of chaos. But the uncertainty isn't easy.

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