Wednesday, August 26, 2015

From Ellis Island to Cliff Street

I've encountered readers who've told me that perhaps I try too hard to be funny for fear of offending with what I see as my truth. There are times, more than I care to admit, they have been correct. I'll try to do better. This is one of those times.

The time has come, the Walrus said, to talk of many things. And with apologies to Lewis Carroll (and I suspect, his union Carpenter) to speak of scapegoating people whose crime is entering our country in search of a better life for themselves and their families or for the care and concern we offer, or don't, our invisible indigent.

As a reader of boxcars of news copy, I avoid getting incited or incensed by headlines that appear in it but today I am unable to allow a contrast and coincidence of two different, but to me related, reports on events of recent days to go unremarked upon.

On a bronze plaque inside the lower level of the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty is Emma Lazarus' sonnet, The New Colossus, that reads in part, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

There are no construction specifications about border walls and armed guards, pejorative references to "anchor babies" or technical discussions about the mechanics of a repeal of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.

For me the sonnet is a statement of intent and a promise by the country I am very proud to live in for everyone else everywhere on earth even to (or maybe most especially for) loudmouths whose theme song seems to be We Shall Overcomb.  

It's August 26, 2015 and we have exactly four hundred and forty-four days to go before Election Day 2016. We may well need a new word to capture the stridency of what we'll pretend passes for discussion if where we're already in tenor and tone at is any indication.

Unless, that is, we learn to lower our voices and open our minds and (I'd hope) also open our hearts as it seems we have done after a protracted and often heated disagreement between the Catholic Diocese of Norwich and its Saint Vincent de Paul Place in the former Saint Joseph School on Cliff Street and the Commission on the City Plan of the City of Norwich.

I don't pretend to know any more than do you about the details of the agreement, and not everyone may be happy about everything it contains but I think we can all agree that helping those in need knows no zip code or season and truly reflects the spirit of The New Colossus. Goo goo g'joob.
-bill kenny

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