Lift Your Lamps Beside The Golden Door

Dear fellow countrymen,

I am an American citizen because Americans adopted me in the late 1970s and gave me a better life from the one in store for me in Seoul, South Korea. I may be a naturalised citizen but in fact I was a refugee too. If you don’t know anything about our history or the situation in South Korea at that time I recommend reading up on it. As human beings first, we are all obligated to know the past so we can avoid making the same errors.

Like many South Korean children I came here without any papers. There was no adoption procedure. I don’t have a birth certificate. All I have are naturalisation papers. I had a different life, belonged to a different culture that is older than our country’s, and was given a different name….Nichole Hastings is the name that my adopted parents gave me.

The close-minded, insensitive, inhumane comments and reactions I have seen online against helping refugees to escape a situation our country created is heart wrenching. If you are one of those, I’m crying tears of sadness for you and those refugees who have lost their homes and loved one. And I’m crying tears of joy for all those who want to help them.

I know these harsh and ugly things you are putting forth is just a product of frustration and fear. Frustration because our government has been failing to take care of us for many years now. Fear that the ones who have destroyed these refugees lives will do the same to your own. But open hearts, open minds and open arms are what will make us better people, a nation as a whole, and members of the human species.

Please don’t give in to your frustration and fears, examine where they are coming from and turn away from hate. We as human beings on the planet have more important things to worry about – climate, water, land and air pollution. Not these petty wars driven by close-mindedness, greed, and misguided conclusions of what we’ve been told is important in the world: money, fame and reputation, domain, etc.

The birth of the American nation was one founded by refugees. We are all in fact refugees or sons/daughters/grandchildren, the descendants of refugees. However many generations removed. I hope you’ll think long and hard about the following:

“Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“’Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!’ cries she
With silent lips. ‘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-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!’”

My port of entry to the United States was Denver Colorado. I have tried a few times to see the Statue of Liberty and for one reason or another it never came to be. Perhaps because you’re so generationally far removed from your own immigration and status as a refugee you’re unable to understand the hope and happiness the engraving on the Statue of Liberty has for so many.

Maybe you’re just trying to put food on your table and keep a roof over your head. Maybe you’re feeling as frustrated with the system as I am. That’s okay. But however you feel and whatever your circumstances are, these do not excuse insensitivity, meanness and selfishness. So, please, do yourself and others a favor, because one day you might be in similar circumstances, have some compassion and kindness for others. And be a better you.

Peace, love and being the change you want to see in the world.

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