In light of another year since the events of September 11th, this is an ideal time to consider our country’s actions and intentions moving forward.
Last week, it was announced that the DACA program would soon come to an end. For thousands of people, that means that they would no longer be protected under the law as a child of an illegal immigrant.
Why has this decision come about? It originates in a fear that was proven on this day sixteen years ago. That was the moment the country confirmed a reason to bar its borders, barricade itself from outside intruders.
This transcended to every scale, institutional to individual. We became more suspicious of our neighbors, more defensive of our own lifelihoods and worldviews.
Xenophobia. A viral disease that has run rampant throughout the population. An outright avoidance or subtle microaggression toward “others,” people who don’t share our skin color, our beliefs, our country of origin.
Obviously this has been present long before 9/11. Dividing the world into “us” versus “them” makes it easier, to group diverse individuals into generic categories, like a list to check yes, these people are okay, or no, these people are enemies.
Perhaps somebody practices a different religion. Maybe they are trying to go through the process of citizenship or came to America to offer themselves and their families a better life. And yes, some enter the country with violent, harmful ideas in mind. But a few potential risks should not outweigh the vast number of people who want nothing more than peace and community.
We amplify the frequency and severity of terrorist attacks. First off, we usually only highlight those with a majority Caucasian demographic. Rarely do we mention the more prevalent violence occurring right under our noses in areas of poverty, Muslim-predominate areas. Violence for some has become part of everyday life, and yet so many of us turn a blind eye to such news.
Compassion in its truest form knows no borders, no divisions we have created. Our very country was founded on a belief of freedom and courage, except even then we harmed those different from us, people who had been on the continent long before pilgrims settled.
We still hold that double standard of promoting love and equality whilst undermining the predetermined “other.” That other just transforms into whatever we best see fit. Another testament of history repeating itself. When we allow fear and ignorance cloud our vision, we go against our moral standards of treating others with respect.
Where do we go from here? How do we move forward when our own human nature continually holds us back? Certainly it’s not a straightforward answer, an overnight flip of the switch. Again, this decision to end DACA did not generate out of thin air. Its origin is a gradually amplifying fear that has flooded over into outrage.
If emotions can drive us to the extremes of forcing innocent young people from the only home they’ve known and proposing a bordering wall shielding us from our neighbors, then emotions can do the opposite, too. Just as we fuel hate, we can fuel understanding, passion to improve ourselves and others, resounding love for every human on this planet.
I believe it is possible. Not easy, of course, but not out of reach. But it takes a communal movement to make traction. I see it in our reactions to the DACA decision. I see it in our drive to help victims of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey. I see it in little choices we make every day to support each other and simply show respect.
So let’s not look back at this day with fear. Let’s view it instead as a turning point. An opportunity to rise from the ashes and spread our wings with soaring compassion. We all deserve to dream. Let us not extinguish that fire.
Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie