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STORIES are everywhere
If you’re tired of resisting and are losing hope for our democracy let me share with you from my travels.
I visited an American cemetery in the south of Holland near the former German and Belgian borders. This piece of history of the allied invasion into German-occupied territory in 1944 preceded me. My existence as I know it now, full of freedom and choice, depended on what happened here. People banned together to fight atrocities, people gave their lives to fight an unacceptable morality of xenophobia and white supremacy. I stand bridging two countries, two continents in shared beliefs and values. The value of all-lives-matter, the value of equality among races, the value of caring for one another, the value of freedom of speech and religion. Without this piece of history, refugees, victims of oppressed regimes, victims of religious fervor, victims of corruption and economic inequality wouldn’t be flocking to this part of the world. A part of the world that has had open arms for the oppressed and persecuted for a half century since WWII. A part of the world that has experienced peace and economic progress through holding high its values of freedom, equality and caring for one another.
The American news of xenophobia, cronyism, corruption, attempts to oppress women’s rights, to restrict voting rights for the underprivileged followed me as I traveled here. A place once freed of these oppressions by the same American people. Or maybe not the same people? Have we changed so much in the last 60 years that we can’t remember? What has changed that a nation of freedom lovers, of generous sharing people have a xenophobic, crony favoring, greedy, oppressor of women’s rights and liberties in charge?
I walked the green isles between white grave markers of different religions. Young men with different beliefs fought next to each other to give freedom and protection to the oppressed. They shared values and are lying next to each other in this cemetery. White clouds, racing overhead, forming and re-forming, told me how fleeting existence is. A large tree, pruned in winter of its new growth stood raising its knotted hands to the sky, waiting for new life to sprout, again and again.
Opposites of belief exist. The last 60 years in this part of the world have shown these opposites can live together and provide safety and peace for society. Will the force of democracy prevail in the tumult over questionable relations with Russia? Despite similar differences of views in Holland and France it seems to be so. Dutch opposing political parties are struggling to form coalitions to govern in parliament and are asking each other, “Can you put your beliefs aside to form governmental strategies and legislation? Can you govern with common humanitarian values in mind?"
We must hang on to democratic principles if we don’t want our world to tumble into the abyss of totalitarianism. We must remember what such regimes have done and why these men laying here in Margaten cemetery, have lost their lives. We must open our eyes to what happens to good people who live in countries under totalitarian rules, people who beg us for protection. As an immigrant to the USA I am keenly aware of the choices given to me and the choice I have made bridging two countries. My travels bring renewed awareness of what can happen if we don’t fight for the values of equality, free speech and religion. If we don’t care for each other. Lets remember and fight the fight for humanitarian values.