This post is a little late because I found it a little difficult to write - and life is just busy!
We're down to our last week of summer, and our days are going fast, so we're trying to squeeze in whatever fun we can before school starts in nine days (not that I'm counting (I am totally counting)). We've played in the river up in the mountains, had a picnic in the garden, planted roses, made some art, watched a lot of Avatar, gone to the movies, had lots and lots of friends over and just about eaten our way through a Costco-sized box of ice cream. It has been pretty great!
This past week was busy enough that I probably could have given myself one of the 12 passes I've allowed myself for this year-long project, but I've been distressed enough about the ICE raids and detention centers at the southern border of the United States that I felt like I had to do something. As an immigrant and a non-citizen myself (I'm a permanent resident of the United States), I tend to keep my head down where politics are concerned, especially immigration politics. I'm uncomfortably aware of the privileges I enjoy as a white European immigrant whose foreignness is more charming than it is threatening. The Americans around me have met me with nothing but friendship, love and inclusion, and I am reluctant to come across as an ungrateful or critical guest - which, at the end of the day, is essentially what I am.
But it hurts to see families being separated and people suffering in inhumane conditions. And I feel such a need to do something. So I donated to the American Civil Liberties Union.
Listen, I originally wrote quite a long post about my thoughts and feelings in regards to the current immigration situation. But it didn't feel quite right somehow, so I let it sit for a few days while I tried to work out why, and this is what I came up with: I don't want to be divisive. I see a lot of problems in our society stemming from our propensity to divide ourselves into "us and them," and it causes nothing but more hard feelings and bitterness. I know the loveliest people on both sides of The Great American Political Divide, who say the unloveliest things about people on the other side. But we're not going to improve anything by pointing fingers, dishing out blame and "othering" our neighbors to the point that we can't talk to each other. We need to build bridges across the divide, find common ground and a common purpose to work towards. To go a bit John Lennon: "it's easy if you try."
Anyway, back to the American Civil Liberties Union. I chose to donate to them this week because I believe they are an organization that is genuinely seeking to bridge that divide. In essence, the ACLU is an organization that works within the court system and legislature to "defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and the laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country". They are both non-profit and non-partisan. You can read more about the ACLU and what they do here. Sometimes I completely agree with the cases they take on (voters rights! Privacy protections! Religious freedom!), and sometimes they're defending the rights of individuals or organizations that are completely reprehensible beyond comprehension to me (like the Ku Klux Klan...). But I admire that they are willing to work to ensure that no one's constitutional rights are being violated and that everyone is treated fairly.
As someone who believes laws and fairness, they are an organization that really resonates with me. So, you can imagine, that when I learned that they are working to protect the rights of immigrants, I felt really good about donating some money to ensure that everyone gets a fair hearing. I like that the ACLU are working towards both helping individuals have proper representation now, as well as seeking longterm solutions through advocating for necessary changes in legislature. I'm happy to add my small drop to that bucket. You can read more about immigrants' rights from the ACLU here - and I recommend that you do. Being informed is key.
Bonus! One of my friends from college is now a teacher and an education advocate extraordinaire. Her hard work and passion for helping her students is nothing short of inspiring. So when she posted on her facebook page about preparing for a new school year with 36 kids in her class, many of which come from pretty tough backgrounds, I sent her a little donation for "pencils, Kleenex and Diet Coke". Teachers are incredible people. Go love on one today.