Making a difference in the world is what we do best

By Morf Morford, Tacoma Daily Index

There are two contrasting and competing visions for America: the “Fortress America” vision, of a nation besieged by undesirable immigrants and undermined by globalists with hidden agendas, and, in the other corner, a “City on a Hill” vision, of a nation whose powers of irresistible and near-mythical attraction and near-unlimited opportunity and refuge are its greatest strength. In other words, we, perhaps like every historically and geographically sprawling empire, go back and forth between being open, welcoming and expansive or withdrawing into fear and contraction.

The question perpetually before us is whether we intend to be truly great – as in innovative and growing, or petty as in miserly, grasping and afraid.

For whatever reason, fear seems to be an effective campaign theme lately, but it certainly does not appeal to, as Abraham Lincoln put it, “our better angels”. Fear and rage might “inspire us”, but certainly not to actions, decisions and policies that we might be proud of.

I consider myself an old-fashioned patriot, one who believes that America can be, should be, and often has been a solution more than a problem, that our touch in foreign lands is (or at least is intended to be) constructive and healing, and we offer refuge that, for whatever reason, the rest of the world cannot offer.

We have the resources, the space and the philosophical foundation, from our Statue of Liberty to many of our founding documents welcoming those “huddled masses” seeking religious or political freedom and offering them opportunities that they rarely found at home. And, of course, as they prospered, we prospered.

We dominate technology, innovation and Nobel Prizes thanks to these foreign-born refugees who make their home – and often find unimaginable success – within our borders.

For a variety of reasons, we in the USA have suffered a crisis of confidence the past several years. We have come to question, not our most vile, violent and self-destructive impulses but our kindest, most generous and compassionate constructive tendencies.

Making America Great – in the eyes of the world

The America I grew up in billed itself as “the land of opportunity” where every voice, and race and religion was welcome to flourish as it could not at home. This is far from the chest-thumping self-congratulations we often hear from self-serving politicians.

America at its best is the everyday volunteer who helps families in need knowing that a child rescued will never forget the hands and the community that helped them when they needed it most. And that commitment, and opportunity, will reap benefits to the community for generations to come.

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

Inscription on The Statue of Liberty

If you like to see a study of the background and intent of the inscription and the statue itself, I suggest this article.

True and lasting greatness is far more than a slogan – it is a calling and a reminder of who we, as individual and as a nation, are, at our best.

Children are our best investment

How we treat our children is, to a large degree, a reflection of how they will, one day, treat us.

For a variety of reasons, from climactic catastrophes to civil wars to political or religious oppression, we are seeing a record number of refugees – families driven from their homes from almost every corner of the world. From El Salvador to Sudan to Ethiopia to Afghanistan, Ukraine and Syria to dozens more, we see camps and caravans packed with ever more desperate fugitives from injustice and persecution.

The irony of course is that they seek what we all seek; safety and opportunity.

And they, like the ancestors of literally 99% of current Americans, firmly believe that they can find those things on our shores.

Are they right to believe in us? Only time will tell; now is the time to let them know that their faith in America is well-founded – or not.

For those of us who value education and opportunity for all, the news of the Taliban literally shutting down schools for girls and banning all higher education for adult women is bizarre and horrifying.

Civil wars and ethnic cleansing are destructive and debilitating to any culture, but at least they are temporary and have an ideological goal in mind. But the institution of laws permanently prohibiting half of a nation’s population from educational attainment is surreal and unbelievable.

If you’d like to donate to a program that offers refuge and education – and a future – to young people who will make a difference, look here. Dunn School is working to raise $1 million to support a group of student refugees find a home and continue their studies and create a refugee studies program.

Dunn School has a long tradition of providing refuge and educational opportunity for students in crisis around the globe. Most recently, they helped fund room, board, curriculum, activities, and transportation for five students displaced by the war in Ukraine. Besides supporting Ukrainian students, they received additional calls to aid bright, motivated students whose educations — and lives — are under constant threat.

At Dunn, each boarding student has a board parent team, a residential life team, an advisor, a school and college counselor, a nurse, a student life dean, and a dean of equity and inclusion. In addition, there will be an ESL teacher and specific refugee coordinator, and at Dunn, the spouse of the head of school volunteers her time for refugees as a “den mother”.

Your donation to the Dunn School refugee scholarship program is integral to ensuring that refugee children in Afghanistan and Africa, displaced by political strife and continually persecuted for everything ranging from their beliefs, gender, and skin color to simply existing, can fulfill their potential with safety and security.

I might be biased here, but my experience tells me that there is no greater “American” act than to welcome those “huddled masses yearning to breathe free”. Based on our Founding documents, it is who we are.