I wrote a bit ago about hate groups enjoying a newfound popularity through the issue of immigration. Even though there is a debate going on about whether to accept illegal immigrants into this country, I believe that those who are here deserve our compassion and acceptance as we are all human beings. We are all made of the same stuff, we all bleed, we all have the same basic concerns. With this in mind, I’d like to dedicate this post, if that is possible for me, to the actions we can take and of those that I have already taken. Oh, I’ll insert here that I had asked anyone reading my post to feel free to write on the subject themselves so this issue of hate gains more exposure. Tobeme has written a VERY good article on the subject called, “Proliferation of Hate and What You Can Do About It”. He lists steps that one can take to ensure they eliminate hate from their lives. Very proactive, tobeme; and thanks.

As some of you may know, I am active in our church and our community consists of a growing majority of immigrants, legal and illegal. The other night, I was at a parish meeting and they are looking for people to be on committees for various activities they are planning and on a Paschal Committee, which deals with life in the parish in general. I want to be on this particular committee in part because I want to bring forth some ideas on what we, as a parish can do to help the immigrants of our community. I believe we can set up a network of people in the parish to form something akin to Freecycle.org. For those of you unfamiliar with Freecycle, I’ve linked to it.

UPDATE 3/10/07: This is the link for Freecycle. I had left out the link in my original post. This link gives you information and lets you find a group in your area. I belong to the one that’s a Yahoo group.

Well, if you have a computer, this is a great idea for offering and obtaining items that are in need for free, and a way for others to offer items that they do not need/want any longer. If you are offered the item, you go and get it. Simple…. BUT you need access to a computer to participate. My idea for our parish would be something along the same lines, except to set up a central location, maybe the church bulletin board, for items to be posted, OFFERED & WANTED; or maybe someone in particular would be responsible for keeping the information if someone does not want to post their phone number. However we work it out, I believe that it’s doable. I have other ideas, too, one of which would be a program that would pair up individuals for the purpose by which both would be able to learn the other’s native language. Americans have the opportunity to learn a foreign language and foreigners can learn English… for free, both parties benefit. Also, this is a great way to learn about other cultures in our community and nurture friendships instead of ignorance and hate.

Something that we all can do is be aware of people we come into contact with that might have a particular need that we may be able to satisfy. The wife of a man in our choir had a baby and they were obviously in need of assistance. I do not know anyone that would not need assistance, if they could get it, after bringing home a newborn. So I offered him all of Little Drake’s clothes and other items that we were not in need of any longer, or if we had excess. He was very grateful, and I was happy that I could give him a good impression of Americans… but you know, at that moment, there was a connection we shared; and that was the fact that we were both new parents. Simply put, we had these little babies that had changed both our lives forever. I share this with you in hopes to provide a bridge upon which we all can find connection.

That is the biggest thing we can do. Be aware of the people around us and if they have a need. I focus on needs because any immigrant is strange to the country, maybe does not have a job yet, etc. They might not be accustomed to this climate, so will need clothes appropriate for the weather here. Food, friendship. Yes, friendship. These are people far from home, missing their people and might feel alone and isolated. If we extend hospitality, it will make another human being feel better. I know a man separated from his family. He has been here for years in order to help one of his daughters who has a rare medical condition. She comes here for treatment throughout the year, while he stays here alone, working to support his family and pay for her ongoing medical treatment. Folks, he is permanently living here to do that. I don’t know if I could do that…. well, I’d have to, but I would die from the separation from my family. Most people here would cringe at the thought of just going across country, but be separated from their family.

We must remember that, no matter what we hear in the news, that most people do not come here just to make a financial “killing”. Most people come here to escape some form of oppression. Immigrants leave their country to never look back, most likely, leaving a lot of loved ones behind.

I will have to close here because my son is really getting on my nerves and I want to get this post published. I have a feeling that if I try to write more, all I might just do is replicate what I just wrote. The last thing I’ll say is to just look inside your heart and be true to who you really want to be. Do you want to hold grudges and hate, or do you want to be positive and spread the love inside you?

“To do is to be, to be is to do.”