I wrote “And then they came for me…” over a year ago.
I was criticized for writing a ‘political’ piece. As a social benefit sector coach, teacher and practitioner, I’m apparently supposed to ‘stick to my lane.’
But… what exactly is my lane?
My blog is for those who work in the social benefit sector. We’re supposed to practice philanthropy – love of humankind.
When we see hatred of humankind being practiced, our job is not only to call it out but to do something to ameliorate the situation.
Many people, our donors among them, are good, caring souls who truly want to make the world a better place. Our job is to lead people on a journey that enables them to accomplish their goals. To enact their values. To find a higher purpose. Through the practice of philanthropy.
Philanthropy facilitation is, in my book, a high calling.
When times get tough, that’s when we most need to live up to our philanthropic calling.
To call on our communities to come together. United we stand. Divided… not so much.
We’re living in divisive times. There’s a lot of ‘othering’ going on. Them/us. If they’re okay, we’re not okay.
We ignore what we have in common at our peril.
Okay, so there are lots of pressing issues. Pick one that troubles you, and decide on an action you’ll take to work towards positive change.
Do this not just for the organization for which you work, but for a current issue that’s staring you in the face and, possibly, invading your dreams.
For me, today, it’s human suffering at our border.
Enough is enough.
The border patrols are coming…
For immigrants seeking asylum… Immigrants fleeing countries because they fear for their lives and the lives of their children… Immigrants fleeing countries because they’re starving, homeless and have no work prospects… Immigrants fleeing because they have no other viable choice — if they’re to survive.
What are we doing about it?
Apparently what w’re doing is cutting humanitarian aid to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, creating greater instability and making it less tenable for people to stay there.
Apparently, what we’re doing is taking more and more migrants into custody – over 100,000/month for the past three months and the highest monthly total in 13 years.
Apparently, what we’re doing is stuffing migrant shelters and border facilities to dangerously high levels, resulting in overcrowding, overburdened staff, and conditions so poor they’re leading to disease and, increasingly, even death.
Apparently, what we’re doing is cutting services “not directly necessary for the protection of life and safety.” including English classes, legal aid and recreational programs.
Apparently, what we’re doing is charging people trying to give refugees life-saving food, water and medical aid with conspiracy to commit a crime.
Apparently, what we’re doing is transferring 1,400 detained children to a camp used for Japanese internment in WWII.
Enough is enough.
This is no longer temporary at this point.
And please don’t tell me it’s ‘normal’ because America has been separating families for centuries.
Past injustice doesn’t justify current injustice.
This is not acceptable treatment of children.
This is not fair treatment of human beings.
This is cruel.
This is inhumane.
Forget about political affiliation for the time being. We’ve got a humanitarian crisis writ large in the United States of America. Right now! It cries out for humanitarian aid.
Yes, yes… comprehensive immigration reform is needed. Just about everyone agrees. They disagree about how to accomplish it. Let’s stick a pin in that thorny problem right now.
Something more pressing… more urgent… is staring us in the face.
Enough is enough.
What to do?
Call your senators and congressional representative and tell them to pass a humanitarian aid package (look up). Now!
I know it’s a complex issue. I know folks don’t trust one another to act with fairness and integrity and kindness.
But… what’s the alternative?
More… and more… and more… suffering?
Not on our watch.
The social benefit sector must stand up as one and say, at least on this issue, enough.
In the words of Hillel:
If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
If I am only for myself, what am I?
Take care of yourself. Take care of your family and friends. Take care of your nonprofit. And… stand up for those who’ve no one to care for them.
The issue is stark. Humanity vs. cruelty. Love vs. hate.
You know what philanthropy is.
Here are actions you can take:
“It is not incumbent upon you to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.
Pirke Avot (Ethics of our Fathers) 2:21
- Read this article from Indivisible on how to fight all forms of family separations.
- Get the Weekly Americans of Conscience Checklist with concrete actions you can take on a variety of issues, without it becoming too overwhelming.
- Donate to organizations fighting on the front lines.
- Take actions recommended by organizations fighting on the front lines.
- Ask your friends what they’re doing to help, and do something together.
- Don’t forget to call your senators and congressional representative and tell them to pass an emergency humanitarian aid package.
- Simply ‘google’ “How can I help fight family separations?” and you’ll find a lot of suggestions. Pick one that works for you.
As I responded to a reader of my previous article:
The real purpose of philanthropy is to enact transformative change. Preferably, on a large scale. A scale beyond which one human being could accomplish on their own.
This issue cries out to me personally because, regardless of politics or party of preference, it is clear action must be taken to transform the current horrific situation into something less cruel and damaging.
If we don’t all speak out in times like these, we may regret the transformation that occurs. It’s a bit of the “Golden Rule” run amok.
When one person is treated inhumanely, it’s as if all people are so treated.
While the Congress continues to fail at its job, the answer is not to punish the people caught in the cross-hairs. This is the richest country on earth. We should be the most loving and generous. If we lose our humanity, then… who are we? Ripping babies from their mothers’ arms is decidedly not walking the philanthropy — love of humankind – talk.
A community, or a civilization, that cares for each other survives.
When I hear, ‘stay in your lane’ it sometimes comes from someone experiencing cognitive dissonance – they are trying desperately to justify their position as right when part of them knows – deeply – that they are wrong. And shutting you down stops the dissonance. It is a short term solution and way easier than doing the work required of true empathy.
Thank you for so eloquently shining a light of respect and dignity into the darkness which has crept into our nation’s immigration & refugee policies.
Thank you, Claire. Now is the time for all of us to speak up and speak out. Thank you for your courage and leadership. I stand with you.
Well said Claire. This is absolutely inhumane. These are children being detained in internment camps. End of story.
Beautifully written and compelling.
I seldom -if ever comment. But thank you for this blog and for your urging to action. Yes it is my business
Yes, it behooves each one of us to fashion at least on action to cry out against this inhumanity. Together we are stronger. Together we can and will have a voice.
Thank you EVERYONE. Your support, and your passion, brings me joy and comfort. We stand together, so no one feels alone. That’s our job. It’s in the name of the ‘social benefit’ sector. I appreciate your being a part of it. With gratitude, Claire
Totally agree and well said.
You take the whole lane, Claire. As Edmund Burke (not Thomas Jefferson…) said, “All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.”
Absolutely on point. The compassion we put into our work is not only for our clients, but for the world in general. How can anyone sit idly by while these atrocities are happening? Well said, Claire!