Something my friend Eric posted on Facebook today made me stop and think. His comment was …
“I can actually see a future where some of us will be sheltering Dreamers, the way some Germans sheltered Jews during WWII.”
What if … what if you knew of a young DREAMer, say a student at a local college, working evenings at the Starbucks down the street, which is where you met her. Would you … could you offer her shelter in your home if she were in danger of being deported? I think most readers of this blog would answer “of course” without hesitation, for most of my readers are great humanitarians. I replied as much to Eric’s comment. But is it so simple?
No, there is nothing simple about it, but still we say ‘yes’. We say ‘yes’ because these young people have done nothing wrong, they are not criminals, and deportation in some cases would be a death sentence … in all cases it is ‘cruel and unjust’ treatment. We say ‘yes’ because we value human life … all human life … and because we are people with consciences. And finally, we say ‘yes’ because we are better people than Donald Trump and his inhumane comrades. I do not make that last statement lightly, for I have long said that no one person is better than another. But the reality, as I have taken off my rose-coloured glasses and been able to see more clearly, more objectively, is that yes, some people are better humans than others. It is not difficult to be a better person than Donald Trump.
There is a 2016 Ken Burns’ documentary titled DEFYING THE NAZIS: The Sharps’ War .
“It tells the story of Waitstill & Martha Sharp, a Unitarian minister and his wife from Wellesley, Massachusetts, who left their children behind in the care of their parish and boldly committed to multiple life-threatening missions in Europe. Over two dangerous years they helped to save hundreds of imperiled political dissidents and Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazi occupation across Europe.”
The Sharp’s grandson, Artemis Joukowsky, worked on the film with Burns and says he sees parallels between what was happening in Europe in 1938 and what is happening worldwide today. “The vitriol in public speech, the xenophobia, the accusing of Muslims of all of our problems — these are similar to the anti-Semitism of the 1930s and ’40s.”
The Sharps’ story is a reminder that in the last great refugee crisis, in the 1930s and 1940s, the United States denied visas to most Jews. We feared the economic burden and worried that their ranks might include spies. It was the Nazis who committed genocide, but the U.S. and other countries also bear moral responsibility for refusing to help desperate people.
A Polish farmer named Jozef Ulma and his wife, Wiktoria, sheltered desperate members of two Jewish families in their house. The Ulmas had six small children and every reason to be cautious, but they instead showed compassion.
Someone reported them, and the Gestapo raided the Ulmas’ farmhouse. The Nazis first shot the Jews dead, and then took retribution by executing not just Jozef and Wiktoria (who was seven months pregnant) but also all their children. The entire family was massacred. – Nicholas Kristof, New York Times, 17 September 2016
There were many heroes in Europe in the last century. Some died for their good deeds, other lived to tell their stories. But they were all men and women who had the courage of their convictions, who risked their lives to do the right thing for humanity, for the human race.
So I ask myself again, would I give shelter to a DREAMer to keep him/her from being deported to a country they do not know, where there is no family, no support system, no life for them in most cases? And my answer is ‘yes’. Unlike the Sharps and the Ulmas, I would not be risking my life, but I would certainly be risking arrest if ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents ever knocked at my door. And no, I am not particularly brave. But what better cause than taking care of people, helping them survive in this often cruel and hateful world? If I were not willing to do that, then I would not like myself very much.