The first step is always the hardest one, and that is no less true than when you are talking about getting active and sharing your voice. For me, the final straw in recognizing that I couldn’t be silent anymore was when the Trump administration issued the first executive order on a travel ban, effectively cutting off immigrants and refugees from 7 predominately Muslim countries. For me, this is against everything that the United States stands for. I can’t help but think of The New Colossus, which captures the heart of immigration to these shores:
“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!”
We are a land of immigrants, and yet we’ve been here before. This is not the first time in our nation’s history that a group of immigrants has been targeted; Irish Catholics, Jews, Chinese, Germans, Polish, Japanese, etc., all faced similar discrimination that Muslims are now subjected to. When are we going to learn from our history?
Without having an answer to that question, I realized I needed to act, and so, for the first time in my life, I called my representatives in Washington, D.C. It was terrifying. I didn’t know what I was doing or what I was going to say. Luckily, someone had pointed me to a wonderful resource that makes this just a little bit easier; TheSixtyFive.org gives you the issues, the script and the phone number of your representatives so that you can share your concern and demand action. I can’t tell you how important this was for me to take my first step. I wouldn’t have done it otherwise. And since that first step, I haven’t been able to stop.
This was my first step, and I’m going to share my consequent steps along the way, but I can’t do this alone. You may have a different issue that inspires you to act. You may have a different first step. You may need a different tool. But, you need to take that first step. You cannot be silent anymore.