Friday, August 14, 2020

#227 / An Immigrant's "You're Welcome!"

When we say, "you're welcome," we most typically are responding to someone who has thanked us for something. But there is another way to use the phrase, too. "You're welcome" can mean, "please come; please join us." 

Historically, the United States has liked to think of itself as a nation that has extrended a welcome to the world. While we should not forget that this kind of welcome has not been universally deployed throughout our history, the wonderful poem by Emma Lazarus, associated with the Statue of Liberty and reprinted below, is a message that we have officially broadcast to the world beyond our borders. It is, in a real way, an official statement: "You're welcome!"

Immigration has always been, and remains, an issue that is greatly controversial, and this is one of those periods in our history in which our official "welcome" to the world is being challenged as inappropriate and ill-advised. 

Let me suggest, as we think about immigration today, that we might want to question our usual view that those immigrants who come here should be saying, "thank you" to us for the opportunity. While that is fair enough, we also need to acknowledge that the opposite is at least equally true. 

We who are here now, or who were here before, should actually be saying, "thank you" to the more recent arrivals. The food on our tables, art that elevates our spirit, and some of the technical marvels we have come to depend upon have all been brought to us by those "immigrants" who have arrived here from afar. 

We do need to say, "thank you" to the immigrants who have contributed so much to our culture, who have contributed so much to all of us.

AND... we need to continue to say "you're welcome," too!


The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Image Credit:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for your comment!