I’m new here, and don’t often comment on forums, but I’ve been reading, and contributing to CommonDreams, when I am able, for many years now and I’ve always found these forums polite, as has been the earlier comments in this thread.
I write because I work for a large public library system in an urban setting in a major west coast city. Many of the libraries that I work in have very high immigrant populations, a high incidence of folks without housing combined with the untreated mentally ill. It is emotionally challenging work, heart rending at times, and yet I am also hopeful at many of the signs of change that I am seeing.
Tonight at the branch I worked at we had our weekly Amharic Story Time. There were at least 50 attendees, all singing and laughing and telling stories in their native language. Another of the branches in our system hosts a Somalian Story Time. But we have people from every country imaginable, and I am so aware of how much fear they must be in. I have had coworkers and patrons who have told me horrible tales of abuse from right wing racists, and the razor wire cuts deep.
And so, as a fellow human being, I go out of my way to be kind and open and honest and welcoming to these people who have endured so very much to get here. I look them in the eye, tell them how glad we are to have them as a patron and that they are free to ask us for any type of help they might need. We cannot always fulfill these requests, but we try to the best of our ability. This is actually a stated policy and mission of the system that I work for. We offer free citizenship classes, ESL classes, informal talk times and many other services. I am always amazed at the optimism, the happiness, the joy that so many of our immigrant patrons display, when, again, they face so much hatred and uncertainty. Of course this is not true for every person of any group, but I dearly love my immigrant patrons and co-workers. A co-worker has a poster in our backroom of three colorful women of different ethnicities with the caption “We will defend each other”. I wept when I first saw it.
I also, with my meager salary, once quite a good salary until rents doubled for most people in a matter of a few years, still donate to a wide variety of causes and groups but a portion goes to journals such as Common Dreams, and my local public radio station. I have never found that I suffered from my generosity, and so many benefits. So I do not live in the lap of luxury, but I have rarely been in want of a meal.
In the coming struggles that we as communities, as nations, as the world will surely face, it will be our ability to support each other that will determine the future of our species. Let us hope that we find the way.
I would also like to thank all of the previous commenters for some excellent commentary. They have provided me with much to think about and act on.