We are a nation of refugees


The debate over how — or whether — to welcome refugees to our land is continuing at full throttle.

It is dismaying to hear talk from presidential candidates that we should slam the door shut on Syrians — or Muslims — out of fear that some of them might be terrorists intent on harming Americans.

President Obama has declared several times, “That’s not who we are.”

Well, who are we?

By my reckoning, we are a nation founded and built by refugees.

You’ve learned about these individuals. They sailed to the New World to flee religious and political oppression. They came here in search of a new life. They encountered the indigenous population here and were met with mixed feelings by their new “hosts.”

The refugees persevered throughout most of the 17th century and into the 18th century. They rebelled eventually against the empire from which they had fled. They launched a revolution. The fighting ended in 1781 and a nation was created.

Those refugees then crafted a government built on a document that specified certain things. One of them would be that they would apply no religious test for those seeking political office.

However, some politicians today actually have said in the current climate that people of a certain religion are not “qualified” to seek public office. That’s not who we are, either.

Do we intend to live in fear? Are we doing to forsake the very principles on which those first refugees founded this great nation?

How about we take a break, look inward at just who we are as a people — as a nation?

How might those first refugees think of what has happened to their descendants and their reaction to world events?


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