Let me make sure I understand this correctly……

The U.S. Government has decided that they want to use children as a “supposed” deterrent to people who are seeking asylum or looking to enter the U.S. without the proper documentation. They want to use children as a pawn in a chess match?
Yes, that’s what Attorney General Jeff Sessions flat out said – if you come to the United States without proper paperwork, we will take your children from you.

So the US government has fallen so low as to take children hostage?

Have we learned nothing from past history? Apparently not.

Does our government know anything about trauma and its long term effects on this children? 

I shudder at the thought of being 10 to 17 years old and spending 21 hours a day locked in a remodeled Walmart with thousands of other kids my age. The psychological devastation – not only from that but from not knowing where my parents were and what was going to happen to me or to them?

It is truly criminal. 

The United Nations has it right – this policy brings us down to the realm of the human rights abusing countries.

We’ve gone to war to protect human rights before. Now we’re the ones violating them.

Why? You tell me – why does this administration want to stop the flow of immigrants from the south and why are they using such desperate tactics?
I’ll give you two hints:
• You don’t see this happening on our northern border. Does anyone know what percentage of the people who are currently in Canada are white or Caucasian? I don’t know the exact number, but it’s pretty high.
• Does anyone know the percentage of the people who are currently in Mexico who are white or Caucasian? Okay, now take the ones at the resorts out and you end up with a really small number.

What color are almost all if not all of the children who are in these “immigration centers?” That’s right, they aren’t white like me.
Our immigration system is horribly broken. 

But just because it’s broken does not give the current administration the right to enact draconian or Hitlerian (is that even a word) policies that cause lifelong damage to these children.

I thought we were better than that.
We should be better than that.

Don’t sit back quietly and say, “isn’t that a shame…..”

Do something – write your congressman, write your senators, call the local newspaper.
Imagine if it were your children locked in that Walmart building.

What would you want someone who reads about this to do?
TJV

The children, a mix of those who crossed into the U.S. unaccompanied and those who were separated from their parents under Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ new zero-tolerance policy, spend 22 hours per day during the week (21 hours on weekends) locked inside a converted former Walmart, packing five into rooms built for four.


Dr. Juan Sanchez, the president of the nonprofit that operates the facility, South West Key, warned that the temporary locations might not have to be licensed or staffed by trained child welfare professionals if they are established on federal land, which the Trump administration has been considering.

Casa Padre is the same facility Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., was turned away from this month after arriving unannounced and seeking entry to inspect conditions. In the reception area, a note to staffers tells them to “Immediately notify PD,” or the police department, if media representatives approach.

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/surge-children-separated-border-floods-facility-undocumented-immigrants-n883001

Never Underestimate the Power of an Excellent Teacher

It started when I was in high school. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do other than go to college. I was still figuring that all out (in some ways I still am).

And then I took this English class. The teacher was a guy by the name of Jerry Fondse. The class totally changed my life.

Now, I have to admit, I don’t remember exactly what we studied in that class. I don’t remember what books we read. But I do remember how Mr. Fondse instilled in me the love of reading (I already had it – but this is different) and the love of writing. He made it emjoyable to not only read for the sake of a good story but also to read for the sake of learning, of understanding people, of seeing the other viewpoint.

He opened up the door to other worlds.

And he gave me the first insight into what I wanted to do for a living. I wanted to be a Mr. Fondse.

Well, not him personally, but I wanted to go to college, get a degree in English and teach other high school kids the power of the written word, the power of understanding other people, of understanding other viewpoints, of books and reading. So, I graduated from high school and went to college with that as my goal.

I believe it was the second semester of my freshman year at Calvin when I met the second teacher who changed my world. Literally, after taking one English class with him, I rearranged my schedule and tried to take every possible English class I could take with him. And, as an English major, you do take a LOT of English classes.

He had the ability (or gift – take your pick) to make foreign literature seem comfortable.

He had the ability to help us understand stories that were written in Old English and see them as real, see them as powerful and to see the world they were written in.

Now don’t get me wrong, there were many other teachers who had a powerful impact, but Jerry Fondse and Professor James VandenBosch are the two teachers who had the biggest impact on my life and who instilled in me the desire to understand and enjoy other opinions, other worlds and other people’s stories. They also gave me the first solid glimpse into the power of writing and of sharing your story and your viewpoints through the written word.

Don’t ever underestimate the power of an excellent teacher.

Thank you, Mr. Fondse and Professor VandenBosch for being excellent teachers who had a very important and lasting impact on my life.

Tom

P.S. Coming up next – why did this guy with an English degree spent 20 years dealing with numbers?

P.S.S. Edgar Allan Poe is one of the authors that Mr. Fondse really taught me to appreciate…..


Why I Write….

So, I started this blog a number of years ago. Sometimes, it’s been rather active, sometimes it’s been quiet. Lately, it’s been more quiet than active.

I’ll explain more of why that has been as we move along this journey.

Why did I start it? I started it because I like to write. I find comfort and enjoyment in taking thoughts and ideas and putting them down on paper (or on digital paper actually.) In addition to that, many of my life experiences have given me insights that I wanted to share with others.

Why am I telling you this?

Because I’m soon going to be taking this blog to a different level. I’ve decided, for a number of reasons, that I need to do more writing on here. There are too many things going on that I can’t be quiet about. So, I’m not going to be.

But……..

Before I do, I think it’s important that you know a little bit more about me. I think it’s important that you understand where I’m coming from, where I’m writing from,

What matters to me and why I want it to matter to you.

Some of it you might know, some of it you probably won’t know. Don’t worry, I’m not going to be dragging any skeletons out of the closet……

These are turbulent times we live in, I hope you’ll join me on this journey and see where it leads me and see where it leads you and see where it leads us.

Thanks for listening,

Tom


Everyone Has A Story | Brené Brown

Everyone has a story or a struggle that will break your heart. And, if we’re really paying attention, most people have a story that will bring us to our knees.

You would think the universal nature of struggle would make it easier for all of us to ask for help, but in a culture of scarcity and perfectionism, there can still be so much shame around reaching out, especially if we’re not raised to understand the irreducible nature of human need.

Source: Everyone Has A Story | Brené Brown

If you have never read anything that Brene Brown has written, you should.   She speaks eloquently to the human condition and helps so many people understand what is going on in their lives and in the world.

We are all better off because of what she writes and what she speaks about.

She wrote the article that I linked to up above in light of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain’s suicides this past week.   Two people who appeared to have it all together but were struggling deeply.

Everybody has a story and everybody has a struggle.

Read what she wrote.

Starting tomorrow, I’m going to be telling my story, how God has brought me to this place and talking about things that matter to me.   I hope you’ll join me for that story.

Thanks,

 

Tom

 


The US is violating the Human Rights of Children – and the UN is calling us out on it.

That is a title to a post that I never thought I would have to write.

It’s something I never wanted to write – because I didn’t want it be true.

But here’s the reality:

  • Previously, the US Customs and Border patrols would, I’ve been told, keep children with their parents when they arrive at the border unless they had significant reason to believe they were not with relatives and were at risk of being trafficked.  In that case, the child would be placed in a foster care situation while the situation was resolved or other family was located.   I don’t have the statistics but from what I understand the number was minimal.
  • The current administration, specifically Attorney General Jeff Sessions, acting under direction of the President, changed that policy.   That policy is now a zero tolerance policy.   What does that mean?   That means that if you show up at the border and want to come in to the United States, our government will take your children.  We will put you in prison in one prison and we will put your child somewhere else and we won’t tell you where.   And the place where we put your child will probably not be a nice place, probably not be adequately staffed and will definitely be highly traumatic to your child(ren).   
  • Oh and it doesn’t matter whether you are here seeking asylum or here without the proper documentation, the current administration is doing that for and to everyone.  At least everyone who is coming in through Mexico gets treated that way.

Let me make sure I’m perfectly clear – we are a country that has put economic sanctions in place against other countries because of human rights violations in those countries.   And now the UN is saying that we’re violating human rights also.

Here’s part of what the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights had to say about us:

We are deeply concerned that the zero tolerance policy recently put in place along the US southern border has led to people caught entering the country irregularly being subjected to criminal prosecution and having their children – including extremely young children -taken away from them as a result.

The practice of separating families amounts to arbitrary and unlawful interference in family life, and is a serious violation of the rights of the child. While the rights of children are generally held in high regard in the US, it is the only country in the world not to have ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. We encourage it to accede to the Convention and to fully respect the rights of all children.

The use of immigration detention and family separation as a deterrent runs counter to human rights standards and principles. The child’s best interest should always come first, including over migration management objectives or other administrative concerns. It is therefore of great concern that in the US migration control appears to have been prioritised over the effective care and protection of migrant children.

Children should never be detained for reasons related to their own or their parents’ migration status. Detention is never in the best interests of the child and always constitutes a child rights violation.

Read the entire briefing from Tuesday, June 5, 2018 at http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=23174&LangID=E

I would really like to think that all except for the most hardened and heartless racists would see that those who come to the border, whether they come seeking asylum or whether they come hoping to enter without documentation are coming because they have lost all hope of a decent life for them and their children in their birth country.   And that those who are coming deserve to be treated with human dignity and the human rights that every human deserves.

Apparently I am wrong.   Because if this move was truly unpopular with their “fan base” then the current administration would not be doing it.

That is truly disappointing.

I will have more thoughts and suggestions on how to let your opinion be known, hopefully later this afternoon.

Stay tuned

Tom