Typically, when my daughters ask me what I want for my birthday or Christmas I respond “peace on earth, goodwill towards men.” On rare occasions when I respond “new socks or new dish towels or season three of the Newsroom” they say “Mom, what happened to peace on earth!” Well, I have a new response for my birthday gift this year – I want immigrant children and their parents (who have been properly vetted) to be able to enter the USA, I want green card carrying aliens to be able to go visit their families and return safely, I want the children of this world to have food, shelter, education and the opportunity to play, explore and discover their gifts. And then use those gifts to make this world a better place.
Next week is my birthday but the United States of America is not my birthplace. It is however my country. I was born in Oxford, England to a British mother and an American father. At birth I was registered at the American Embassy as the child of an American Air Force Technical Sergeant. As I understand the story due to red tape, a US Congressman from Oklahoma had to get involved so my mother could come to America. We came to America on October 4, 1955. My first passport issued on August 3, 1955 states: “I, the undersigned, Consul of the United States of America, hereby request all whom it may concern to permit safely and freely to pass and in case of need to give all lawful aid and protection to Ann Collette Clark a citizen of the United States.” I started to cry as I read those words this morning because somewhere there is child whose parents are trying to enter the USA. They aren’t citizens but they have been properly vetted and now they must wait and wait. I understand this is a complex issue. I know I have white privilege. I am fully aware that terrorists were responsible for the September 11 attacks that caused my husband to die in the line of duty but I also believe we can do “better.”
Last week at the 9/11 Tribute Center as I finished speaking to a group of sixth graders, a student said to me “after September 11, people did mean things to Muslims.” I responded “I know that. That was wrong. Remember what I said we need to live aware not afraid. Those people were living afraid. If they had been aware of what Islam taught, they would have known all Muslims are not terrorist. Aware not afraid.” My daughters have already given me my birthday presents this year. They just don’t realize it. Nothing they could give me could mean more to me than the way they live their lives. They are doing “better.” On Saturday January 28, my older daughter, after working all day, traveled with her husband to JFK Terminal 4 to protest. And this past week my younger daughter when informed that a patient was undocumented stated “what does that have to do with getting him medical care.” It is time not just to do good but to do better with hopes for the best we can be. 😎