This blog originally ran on The Huffington Post. It is being reprinted here with the permission of Dr. Jane Aronson.
I wrote a few very long-winded essays about the current influx of children and families from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras and somehow they were not what I was getting at. If I were writing them by hand, they would be crumpled paper in a waste basket.
In my car on the way to work, I heard a report on NPR about the Central American situation that moved me to where I need to be on this subject. I had an epiphany as I started my day as CEO of Worldwide Orphans. Where is our responsibility as a world community for the suffering and trauma of other humans?
Where is our humanity?
Look at the title of this blog. It is taken from a sign that was photographed outside a holding center in Texas for hundreds of kids and their families who had arrived from their journey from Central America. The children are hoping for safety and security from the unjust conditions in their countries. The sign was held by an American citizen who is threatened and afraid of a community from afar…likely not much different than she.
My work as CEO of Worldwide Orphans is focused on orphans and at-risk children all over the world. We work hard to bring orphans into the community and the community into orphanages. Most people don’t seem to understand that orphans are not usually kids without parents. Most orphans have parents and extended family somewhere if we care to find them. It was poverty, conflict, and war that likely destroyed these families and created social orphans.
Many of the Central American youngsters crossing our borders are social orphans. What has been so confusing for me and for everyone listening to the TV reports is that we really don’t get a clear story about who is coming to the US. My hope is that part of the $3.7 billion that is earmarked for human services can help aid the masses of people who are fleeing from poverty and violence in their own communities. Let’s learn about who is in the shelters on the border. Let’s hear their stories. If we humanize the situation we can begin to figure out that these are our neighbors and not our enemies.
Who is working on a strategy for the monies to help the people who are ruined by injustice in their countries? I have watched a lot of legal and immigration experts on every channel, but I have heard nothing about how we plan to help the people who came to us to escape injustice.
When we stop behaving like xenophobic, isolationist silos, we might be able to prevent masses of people trying to escape abuse in their communities. We wait for crises to happen. We spend little time and money on prevention and we are in denial about the condition of the human spirit. There is such anger and suffering around the world. Everyone is stressed and impatient. Quick fixes abound. We must come to terms with the fact that kindness, acceptance, and community must rise, scaffold and cradle those who are in need, no matter what the circumstances. I live for the day when unconditional commitment to our neighbors will prevail.
We are one world and we share our problems no matter where we are on the planet earth.
Dr. Jane Aronson
CEO, Worldwide Orphans