BY STEVE DUNN
In New York harbor sits one of the most famous landmarks in the world–the Statue of Liberty. Engraved on “Miss LIberty” are these words–a poem called “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus.
The New Colossus
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!”
When I was but a schoolboy in western Ohio, I was taught these words, then marked as a symbol of the incredible core values that drove my nation’s actions.
Over the 65 years of my life I have met countless people drawn to this nation because of the twin promises of liberty and opportunity–people enriched by their coming and often enriching our nation because they came.
Post 9-11 America finds itself hard-pressed to live out these values. Under the threat of Isis and other terrorists movements, we seem intent on closing that ‘golden door.” Not completely. People like us politically, whose religion does not threaten ours, whose economic goals do not undermine us, who will not compete for our resources, and who will embrace the prevailing secular individualism of the age–these people are still welcome.
I share our concerns about national security and obedience to the laws of the land; but sometimes I fear that the grace and compassion, the commitment to liberty for all peoples is being eroded or being replaced with a selfish inwardness that violates one of the most fundamental laws of the God I honor’ “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Is it possible to have life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in this nation without quenching that lamp beside the Golden Door?
© 2016 by Stephen L. Dunn. You have permission to reprint this provided it is unchanged, proper authorship is cited, it is in a publication not for sale, and a link is provided to this site or to www.drstevedunn.com. For all other uses, contact Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org