Refugee blues …. W.H. Auden


Say this city has ten million souls,
Some are living in mansions, some are living in holes:
Yet there’s no place for us, my dear, yet there’s no place for us.

Once we had a country and we thought it fair,
Look in the atlas and you’ll find it there:
We cannot go there now, my dear, we cannot go there now.

In the village churchyard there grows an old yew,
Every spring it blossoms anew:
Old passports can’t do that, my dear, old passports can’t do that.

The consul banged the table and said,
“If you’ve got no passport you’re officially dead”:
But we are still alive, my dear, but we are still alive.

Went to a committee; they offered me a chair;
Asked me politely to return next year:
But where shall we go to-day, my dear, but where shall we go to-day?

Came to a public meeting; the speaker got up and said;
“If we let them in, they will steal our daily bread”:
He was talking of you and me, my dear, he was talking of you and me.

Thought I heard the thunder rumbling in the sky;
It was Hitler over Europe, saying, “They must die”:
O we were in his mind, my dear, O we were in his mind.

Saw a poodle in a jacket fastened with a pin,
Saw a door opened and a cat let in:
But they weren’t German Jews, my dear, but they weren’t German Jews.

Went down the harbour and stood upon the quay,
Saw the fish swimming as if they were free:
Only ten feet away, my dear, only ten feet away.

Walked through a wood, saw the birds in the trees;
They had no politicians and sang at their ease:
They weren’t the human race, my dear, they weren’t the human race.

Dreamed I saw a building with a thousand floors,
A thousand windows and a thousand doors:
Not one of them was ours, my dear, not one of them was ours.

Stood on a great plain in the falling snow;
Ten thousand soldiers marched to and fro:
Looking for you and me, my dear, looking for you and me.

© WH Auden estate

Sanctuary for modern day Josephs and Marys… and your Wednesday Writing Prompt

Nativity Scene courtesy of Jeff Weese under CC BY 2.0 license

Nativity Scene courtesy of Jeff Weese under CC BY 2.0 license

“We Open Our Doors to Today’s Josephs and Marys Despite ICE’s Plan to Deport them.” a statement of the Faith community

With Christmas upon us and so many people on the move, escaping violence and civil unrest, many Christians look at the suffering of those refugees and remind themselves and one another that these are the Josephs and Marys of our modern world, the people who can’t “find a room at the inn.” In the United States, the battle to protect immigrants from deportation back to the violent environments they’ve come here to escape is lead by faith leaders – Christian, Jewish and Unitarian Universalists.

Although “sanctuary” has its roots in ancient Hebrew tradition and early Christianity, the movement in the United States, one that is both political and religious, began in the early 80s as a response to federal immigration policy. It sought to provide safe-haven for Central American refugees escaping violence. At its height 500 congregations in the United States declared themselves official sanctuaries “committed to providing shelter, material goods and often legal advice to Central American refugees.”  Movement members who acted in defiance of federal law where often arrested and put on trial.

A resurgence of the Sanctuary Movement began in 2014 when, in defiance of a court order to stop detaining children, the Obama administration increased the detention of families by 173%, subsequently announcing it would search for and deport asylum-seeking families. The resurgent Movement put public pressure on the Obama Administration, which led to the President’s Executive Action on Immigration on November 20, 2014.

If you are reading this post from an email, you’ll have to link through to the site to watch this brief video of President Obama using his executive authority to address as much of the problem as he could while he kept working with Congress to pass more comprehensive reform.

Now the Sanctuary Movement has announced its intention to play “a critical role again in responding to the post-election reality wherein fear, discrimination and xenophobia have taken a new precedence in our country’s politics. Since the Trump administration has promised to deport millions, people of faith have a moral responsibility to act. Sanctuary is a tool that helps escalate these efforts by offering our neighbors who face a deportation order, safe refuge and sanctuary in our congregations.”

WRITING PROMPT

Do you have experience with this issue as a refugee/immigrant, the American born child of an undocumented immigrant, or as a teacher, faith leader or community worker involved in providing services? Perhaps you are someone who has seen a neighbor disappear?  Share your story. Write about the issues from your unique perspective.

Maybe you live in one of the countries that has had and continues to have a flood of refugees out of Syria. Write about your concerns. What are you seeing? What are your feelings?  Has your life changed as a result?

Consider submitting this work to be considered for the January 15 issue of The BeZine. The theme is “Resist” and the deadline is January 10.  Send your submission to bardogroup@gmail.com

THINGS FALL APART

Nigerian poet, novelist, professor and critic, Chinua Achebe (1930-2013)

Nigerian poet, novelist, professor and critic, Chinua Achebe (1930-2013)

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CHINUA ACHEBE was a Nigerian poet and novelist. His first novel Things Fall Apart (1958) is his major work and is said to be the most widely read book in modern African literature. He is considered the founding father of African literature in English.

Listen to a short interview with Achebe‘s daughter in pop-out player on BBC’s Witness. Published in 1958, Things Fall Apart “was set in pre-colonial rural Nigeria and examines how the arrival of foreigners – imposing their own traditions – led to tensions within the Igbo society. The book revolutionised African culture, and began a whole new genre of world literature. Witness radio program hears from Achebe’s youngest daughter, Nwando Achebe.”

Refugee Mother and Child Poem

No Madonna and Child could touch
that picture of a mother’s tenderness
for a son she soon would have to forget.
The air was heavy with odours

of diarrhoea of unwashed children
with washed-out ribs and dried-up
bottoms struggling in laboured
steps behind blown empty bellies. Most

mothers there had long ceased
to care but not this one; she held
a ghost smile between her teeth
and in her eyes the ghost of a mother’s
pride as she combed the rust-coloured
hair left on his skull and then –

singing in her eyes – began carefully
to part it… In another life this
would have been a little daily
act of no consequence before his
breakfast and school; now she

did it like putting flowers
on a tiny grave.

– Chinua Achebe, Collected Poems

“Charity . . . is the opium of the privileged.”  Chinua Achebe, Anthills of the Savannah

RELATED:

Africa’s Voice, Nigeria’s Conscience, New York Times
The Sacrificial Egg, The Atlantic

Help for Compromised Citizens of the World

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I thought it would be nice if we all had this information to easily share on our Facebook Pages and our blogs and so forth. I took some time to collect the information. Nonetheless, I’m sure I’ve left some worthy organizations out. If anyone knows of an organization that should be included, please leave it in the comments section and I’ll keep track for an update sometime in the future. Meanwhile, you can also check on a charity’s track record at: Charity Navigator. So please do download this and feel free to share anywhere you feel it’s warranted or would be welcome, maybe even on employee, union and/or church affiliated sites.  Thank you!