No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problem

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By Tiffany A. Potter

A few of my core, life-affirming, rebel-rousing, compassion-driven, spiritual, open-minded beliefs that carry me through my days and color every decision and choice I make are as follows:

I believe that every animal and insect has a soul.

I believe in civil rights for all.

I am pro-choice and object to anyone who pushes a pro-life agenda on me (especially if the person doesn’t have a uterus).

I believe in the separation of church and state.

I will never allow fear or fearmongering to preside over my choices of love and acceptance. Ever.

Meaning, I refuse to believe that the worst of us as human beings represents the majority of us. And because of that my husband and I will gladly, willingly, happily open our home to refugees, Syrian most welcomed, seeking safety and a new start.

In May–June 1939, the United States refused to admit more than 900 Jewish refugees who had sailed from Hamburg, Germany, on the St. Louis and appeared off the coast of Florida.

Due to bureaucratic bullshit (and the United States not seeing the refugee crisis as its to fix), the ship and its passengers, those desperately trying to flee Hitler’s Nazi regime, were denied permission to land and were instead sent back to Europe.

Of those passengers, 254 died in the Holocaust.

During 1941, though there were reports of mass murder by the Nazis, the U.S. Department of State placed even stricter limitations on immigration based on “national security concerns.”

Sound familiar?

Today, the Syrian refugees are every bit as innocent and vulnerable as those that Hitler went after. They are caught in the crosshairs; they are being killed every single day simply because of where they live, so they risk their lives and those of their children in hopes of finding peace and safety. Who could blame them?

Shame on those who live among us and enjoy the spoils of our country (thanks to our ancestors who came to this country in search of a better life) who want to now play God and keep other people out. Shame on those who can sleep well at night while turning the other cheek to other peoples’ suffering.

I, for one, cannot.

And let’s be clear, evil is all around us, foreign and domestic. It is impossible to keep evil out of our country, and if someone wants to infiltrate he will find a way. And while some argue that we should hedge our bets, I like to encourage them to reread the Statue of Liberty plaque: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

Personally, I know that had Ellis Island not been open to my great grandparents (it is family legend that my maternal great-grandfather’s name is on the wall of the Registry Room) I would not be here. For that, and for their sacrifices in search and pursuit of a better life for them and those of us that came after, I am eternally grateful.

One last thing to consider, we cannot declare, boast or thump our chests because we are the “melting pot” of the world that we claim to be if we now even consider keeping some out. We would be full of shit if that was the case.

Please understand that I am not trying to be Mother Teresa and I’m not campaigning for sainthood; I’m just trying to be a good human being. Because, at the end of the day, my most important belief rings true above all others: Kindness matters, compassion matters. It’s everything.

Perhaps we can get some of those obnoxious individuals vying to be the Republican candidate to understand that.

*Sigh*. A girl can dream.

*****

Tiffany is a disability consultant, entrepreneur, inspirational speaker, and change agent. Find her at www.TiffanysTake.com and Instagram: Tiffanys_Take.