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OpEdge: Thankful Not To Be a Refugee

Marc Jampole
November 22, 2015

by Marc Jampole

Give_me_Your_Tired_2_jpegAS HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of Americans gather with family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, we should give thanks that we aren’t refugees.

Whether praying to a deity or expressing our humanity, we should give thanks that our homes have not been destroyed, that we have not seen friends and family killed or injured by bombs and bullets.

We should give thanks that we have never been raped, nor lived with the knowledge that our daughters and women have been.

We should give thanks that we have not had to huddle in camps, low on food or not knowing where to find the next meal, or crowded onto trains, our children crying, our elderly groaning in pain, often smelling the stench of human excrement.

We should be thankful we don’t live in a no-win situation, caught between two, three, and in the case of Syria, four armies, all shooting, bombing, rounding up, vandalizing, and marauding.

We should give thanks that our country has been bombed only once, and that was offshore, seventy-four years ago, at Pearl Harbor. We should be thankful that our country hasn’t been invaded since a slave-owning break-away Confederacy attacked the territory of those loyal to the Constitution more than 150 years ago.

We should be thankful that we live in a land of relative abundance and low crime.

We should be thankful that we were born or have immigrated to this country and remember that we didn’t make the United States, the United States made us — its freedom of expression, religion and action, its relative abundance, its consistent rule of law and its openness to immigrants. We have our problems, specifically our mistreatment of minorities; a wide gap between the wealthy and everyone else; a lack of cradle-to-grave healthcare and education for all; and our dependence on fossil fuels. But we at least have the possibility of fixing those problems without resorting to violence.

IN PARTICULAR, Donald Trump and Carly Fiorina should be thankful for being born rich. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz should be thankful for being born with high intelligence, a gift of god or chance that no one works to get. Jeb Bush should be thankful he was born the scion of a political dynasty.

All these individuals and everyone else about to take a knife and fork to a large succulent piece of white turkey meat slathered with gravy could have just as easily been born in Aleppo or Palmyra.

And being thankful that we are not refugees, we should open our hearts — and our shores — to those unfortunates who are. Otherwise, we lose our humanity and our country loses the reason it exists.

Marc Jampole, a member of our editorial board, is a poet and writer who runs Jampole Communications, a public relations and communications firm in Pittsburgh. He blogs several times a week at OpEdge.