I was recently inspired by a visit to Chester Cathedral. An exhibition makes clear that compassion for new immigrants is alive and well in their community .It addresses fear of the unknown, fear of a different language, fear of an exotic race, colour or culture. Children are being educated to understand that diversity is the sign of a healthy nation.
Since the Brexit referendum in Britain, hate and prejudice has proliferated , even against those from Poland. Have citizens forgotten the crucial role played by Polish Pilots during WW2? Brave, highly trained and audacious, they flew closer than other pilots and downed many more enemy planes. Without them , the Battle Of Britain may well have had a very different outcome. Below, kites painted by the children at Chester, show the spirit and image of freedom.
In the US, it’s distressing to watch extremist ideologues like Trump whipping up hatred against Latinos, and people of colour for personal and political gain. His daily Tweets and racist comments have increased violence in the US. Now his White Supremacist followers think xenophobia is OK. It’s outrageous that Potus has the gall to tell native-born Americans of colour to go home. It’s no surprise to see him take pleasure in denigrating his opponents achievements, especially women. Let’s take a step into the past, to see how things were handled back when.
The US Statue of Liberty proclaims: Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door. The country’s greatness and true genius lies in its diversity. This excerpt from a Petrarchion sonnet, The New Colossus, was written in 1883 by poet Emma Lazarus, herself an immigrant. It was only printed after her death. These famous words were inscribed over the Statue entrance in 1945, achieving world-wide fame for the sentiments, and for her poem.
The words of Emma Lazarus have inspired millions to seek freedom in the US. It’s hard to believe that in 2019, this same nation , has fallen so far from grace and dignity . Would anyone have believed that a country which produced Abraham Lincoln and George Washington – who never told a lie – have spawned a man who does nothing else? Indeed, he’s proud of his ability to con. Who could have believed that in the 21st Century, virtual concentration camps would be set up on the Mexican border?
Inmates in Border Force wire cages are lucky to receive a shower every eight or nine days. It’s a shame the arms-crossed unease evident in Pence during his recent visit, couldn’t be translated into positive action on their behalf. Immigrants are constantly demonized, although their crime rates are lower than in the general population. Potus remains oblivious to the suffering endured within this hell-hole – and, clearly, doesn’t care. Children sicken, are sexually abused and die, separated from their parents. They sleep on the cement floor, have no access to toothbrushes or other measures of hygiene, and are short of essentials such as food and napkins. Teenage detainees are expected to care for separated babies. This disgrace can’t be allowed to continue. When will Potus show genuine leadership in regard to this issue, not be content to whip up hate-driven chants? Is he incapable of exhibiting the decency and integrity, of a great nation? Information from Chester, confirms that many immigration concerns are unfounded.
Kids at Chester bring a wonderful contrast to all the negativity. Paintbrush and pen picture a better world where immigrants feel welcome and:
PAINTED BY SCHOOL STUDENTS AT CHESTER
After WW2, Australia was proudly numbered among those who welcomed millions of migrants . Many had escaped suffering and persecution in Easter Europe. Newcomers made remarkable contributions to our culture and economy. They set up businesses and drove employment. In recent times, Governments and opposition have shown a cruel disregard for human suffering, caused by conflict and poverty. In Places like Nauru, men, women and children have been incarcerated, some for six years, lacking hope of resettlement due to the Government’s stubborn refusal to accept New Zealand’s offer of asylum. In limbo, without hope, they suffer mental illness, attempt suicide, and die from treatable infections, while Canberra delays evacuation. In Papua New Guinea, one young man was murdered by locals, who mistakenly believe inmates are criminals. Thousands of Australians protest against this inhumane treatment. Politicians continue to resist calls for compassion. In the darkness of these realities, many Australians nurse our shame. We deeply desire a better approach. Diversity marks our population, once celebrated.
Child migrants fleeing Hitler were welcomed to the UK, and refugees after WW2 widely accepted by the population in general. Why have many forgotten theirr humanity?
Children’s art work at St Martins, helps illuminate the need for change in Britain, the US, Australia – indeed, around the world. Look into the eyes of those who have tackled dangerous journeys in their bid for freedom. Look into their eyes and say you cannot help. The community of caring folk at Chester have taken up the challenge. They welcome Asylum-Seekers. The facts below will help dissipate other fears .
To paraphrase the students from St Martins: The world can be looked at another way. A place should belong to those in need and seeking shelter, not just those born there. It’s not okay to turn the other way and build a wall to keep them out. Let us share our countries. Share our homes. Share our food. Many face death, persecution or poverty in their native lands, torn asunder by war or famine. Make them welcome, celebrate the richness of their culture.They are desperate, not cut throats or thieves with bombs up their sleeves. Not layabouts and loungers, chancers and scroungers. Many have a great deal to contribute to any society, given a chance. Should life have dealt us a different hand, these haggard faces and haunted eyes could belong to you or me…
My photos taken at Chester Cathedral. Others are shown grace of Pexels.com. Sincere thanks to students, teachers and staff of the Cathedral and St Martin’s School for presenting this valuable and insightful exhibition. The information has enlightened me – and underscored the need for compassion and kindness. Society must find the means to manage this human crisis, not increase their suffering. I hope all these comments prove of value to others. Maybe even soften the hearts of Government Ministers around the world, responsible for helping unfortunate people in need .