One night when I was 18-years old, I was out jogging at night, I twisted my ankle in a pothole and fell to the ground – I was in my most vulnerable state – injured, laying in the middle of a dark street, unable to move.
Cars zoomed by me.
Drivers veered around me.
The notion that I needed help either never crossed their minds or they were too calloused to care.
Eventually, one old lady cared enough to stop.
She pulled her car next to me, rolled down her window and she asked me,
“Son, do you need help?”
“Yes, thank you, I do. I can use a ride home. I just live a mile down the road.”
“What happened?” she asked.
“I was running home, and I fell in a pothole. I twisted my ankle pretty bad. I can’t move it.”
“Why were you running at midnight?” she asked, as I could here her tone quickly shift from care to cynicism, to fear.
I went on to explain to her that my father worked the lobster shift in New York City and each night I would drive the car up to the train station and then run home. This saved me from having to pick him up at 2:00 am each morning.
“How do I know this isn’t a setup?” she asked.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean how do I know that you’re just not faking an injury to get me to stop and help you, so you could rob me?”
I looked at her with disbelief.
“Why would I do that?”
She said, “I’ll tell you what – I’m going to go get help. Wait here, and someone will be back for you.”
I laid there for an hour, no one came back to help me.
After hopping home on one leg, I remember lying in bed replaying in my head what had just happened.
The funny part was, it wasn’t the ones who passed me by as I was lying in the middle of the road that disappointed me the most.
It was the one who cared enough to stop, yet did nothing.
The one who allowed fear to make her just a little less of a caring human being.
“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!”
This is the inscription on the Statue of Liberty.
These are the words we Americans believe in.
The words that we live by.
Yet fear is causing us to live contrary to our beliefs.
Fear is turning us into that old lady who cared enough to stop, but too fearful to help.
Fear made her just a little less human.
I attest that the way you defeat America is by making us all a little less American.
For a country to live in conflict with its core beliefs, is a recipe for mediocrity.
For a country to say one thing and do another, is a fool’s game.
To have contradictory forces at odds with one another, will, at best, produce the status quo.
Which is the honest assessment of America’s current status.
For America to be great again, our beliefs, our words, and our actions must all be in harmony.
I am not naïve… I understand there is evil in the world.
I understand evil will exploit the goodness of mankind; it sees mankind’s humanity as a chink in its armor.
Just to remind me of such, as I am writing this, I am watching an episode of “Elementary.”
In the opening scene, a beautiful woman falls down in front of a bank.
She seems to have twisted her ankle pretty badly.
The security guard witnesses her fall and leaves the inside of the bank to help her.
As soon as he leaves the bank, he is shot in the head.
As an ambush of evil was waiting.
With the security guard dead, the robbers then storm in and rob an unprotected bank.
I get it.
Evil is evil.
If America wanted to be the callous drivers who just passed on by, I would have no problem with putting up a new inscription on Lady Liberty that reads:
“We are temporarily suspending taking in your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Please don’t send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, as the light of my lamp beside the golden door no longer glows for thee.”
At least then, America would be in harmony with its current beliefs, words, and actions.
That is just not the America I know.
The America I know is the universal symbol of freedom.
There is an often overlooked part of the Statue of Liberty.
The broken shackles at her feet.
The broken shackles which represent the “breaking free from oppression.”
Freedom from oppression, freedom from war, freedom from fear.
We, as Americans, just can’t act in conflict with our core beliefs.
We just can’t be the old lady in the car, who cared enough to stop, but too afraid to help.
Who promised to send help.
And never did.
I understand there are supreme risks involved in taking in Syrian Refugees.
But I also believe that the greatest risk to America is for us all to become a little less American.
Every Breath Is Gold
Includes 3 Memoirs:
6 Minutes Wrestling with Life, Again, Your Soul Knows
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