By Kathreen Harrison, Editor-in-chief
A lot went wrong globally in 2021, but the dawning of every new year brings hope, and this New Year of 2022 is no exception. For me that hope is kindled every day by the many acts of kindness Mainers show others they hardly know – welcoming asylum seekers from Africa and Haiti and Central America to our state; helping Maine’s Afghan community wire financial assistance to relatives back home living in danger of starvation or violence at the hands of the Taliban. Such acts of compassion toward others means hope remains alive for a better future, one where the words “Never again” – too often spoken so naively – gain substance and become true.
The launching of 2022 is an opportune moment to think about others, and remember that what happens on the world stage impacts some people in our state in ways that are not always visible to others.
The launching of 2022 is an opportune moment to think about others, and remember that what happens on the world stage impacts some people in our state in ways that are not always visible to others. The list of disasters around the world is long, and touches many immigrant families directly. They have family members facing famine in Afghanistan, genocidal efforts against their tribes in Congo, famine and civil war in Ethiopia, a military takeover in Sudan, attacks on civilians in Somalia, corruption and violence in Central America … the list goes on.
Many Mainers roll over in bed in the morning and turn on our phones with the vague notion of checking out the weather of the day, and maybe the news. But some Mainers who have escaped to safety here have had to leave loved ones behind in harm’s way somewhere on the other side of continents or oceans – and for these Mainers, each morning starts in fear and dread. They open their phones wondering, “Did my loved ones make it through the night? Will they survive another day? Were they roughed up by security forces/militia/police?” And then, like others, these Mainers get up, go to work, or school, and carry on. But they hold the burden of trauma and fear with them wherever they go.
Let’s stand up for our fellow Mainers in 2022 even more than we have in the past. Let’s push our congressional delegation to do everything in their power to get legislation passed that protects the vulnerable family members of our neighbors and friends. The doors to the nation should be open to family members of Maine’s Afghan community who were aligned with the U.S. effort in Afghanistan – but they are not. Current policies make it almost impossible for people to get out of Afghanistan to safety here. And asylum seekers who cross the southern border to save their lives should be vetted but then allowed to work and live in safety, building productive lives in our state – but too often they are not. Current policies set up roadblock after roadblock to being granted asylum here. These policies are immoral. There is no hierarchy of humanity. We are all one. This New Year, let’s be there for all Mainers.