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art theplaceWhat happened, America? Since when are we such a disheartened country? Sure, you might not want the Syrian refugees here. And yes, you have a right to, and should, be worried at the atrocities committed abroad (Paris, Beirut, Africa, etcetera). Of course, we have our own problems at home, lots of problems — childhood poverty, homeless veterans, outdated infrastructure, a lacking educational system, haphazard health care, just to name a few. But, I urge all of you, to stop the hate, stop pointing fingers and yelling as loud as you can.

Shouting online, as in public, never gets anything done. It only makes people look at you weird, and unwilling to listen to the crazy dude in the corner spouting off racism, bigotry, sexism and what not. No matter what, even in our modern world, I still love America. I still feel blessed and happy that I was lucky enough to be born here. And a large part of that happiness comes from the mere fact we are the voice of reason for humanity, a harbor in the stormy seas of the world. 

We are an island of peace and safety in an uncertain and violent atmosphere outside our borders. Sure, we can’t possibly shoulder the troubles of the entire world, but we should try, for who else will? We have been the leaders of justice in the world for a century now, and with that, we do have a social responsibility. Nobody has the power and influence that we do, and if we turn our backs, on people, on politics, on the world, then all will be lost. 

I’m not taking a side on the refugee issue. Rather, I want you all to think hard on what it means to be an American, where your family came from, and what they went through to get to our shores. Remember, the most beautiful portrait of our country is painted with all the skin colors of the earth. We, at the end of the day, are a civilized society. We (try to) work together and come to a solution when dire problems arise. I believe in my heart of hearts that if we fall victim to hate and anger, then we lose sense of what makes this country great. If we lower ourselves to their ISIS bullshit, we all might as well be a roomful of chimps throwing our feces at each other. 

History always repeats itself. Know your history, because what’s going on now across the world has happened over and over, and over again. Would we have won World War II if we didn’t take in German refugees escaping the Nazis and the Holocaust (the same Germans who helped develop the atomic bomb)? Probably not. 

Closing our borders and taking a neutral, silent stance is what ultimately led Adolf Hitler to power. We stood by and watched Europe burn before we jumped in, thankfully not when it was too late, at least in some respects. Now, what he did was, on a grand scale, unfathomable. And wasn’t one of our darkest hours as a country when we alienated Japanese-Americans during that war, putting them in internment camps? Do we really want to backtrack instead of making sensible progress? Now, as in the past, something needs to be done, even during these troubling days — we are the moral compass.

Keep in mind that the same horrible, barbaric violence happening today has happened for centuries. I was raised a Christian, and in my religious teachings — the word of the Bible — we were taught to preserve moral ethics and also perpetuate a sense of justice when it comes to those trying to reek havoc on fellow man. Heck, some of the most barbaric acts were committed by Christians during the Middle Ages and the Crusades, where untold scores of innocent and persecuted peoples were slaughtered. And yet, do those actions define all Christians throughout the course of history? Of course not. This isn’t the first time we’re in this predicament, nor will it be the last, sadly. 

All of us (unless you’re a native) came from immigrant families, many of which were running away from atrocities overseas, or simply the idea of starting a new life, a better life, in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Yes, we need to be as careful and meticulous as possible in our decision-making in this new world of 21st century terrorism and unknown wolves in sheep’s clothing at the door. But, remember, you will never know the hardships of someone unless you step into their shoes.

One of my biggest influences — in terms of morals, ethics, and how to handle hostile and turbulent times — is to turn the pages of the Harper Lee masterpiece To Kill a Mockingbird. Take into account the main character, the voice of reason, Atticus Finch. His words echo just as strong and vibrant as they did the first time they were typed onto a blank piece of paper:

• “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

• “You just hold your head high and keep those fists down. No matter what anybody says to you, don’t you let’em get your goat. Try fighting with your head for a change.”

• “This time we aren’t fighting the Yankees, we’re fighting our friends. But remember this, no matter how bitter things get, they’re still our friends and this is still our home.”

However this current cookie of refugees and terrorism crumbles will determine the trajectory of our country’s fate. Let’s work together. Since when do you automatically hate your neighbor just because they don’t agree with you? Isn’t a true democracy where all voices, from all perspectives and opinions, come together and find the best way to navigate tough waters? We’re all Americans. We’re all in this together. Don’t forget how lucky we are to wake up everyday in a country that gave us a chance. 

Life is beautiful, grasp for it, y’all.

 

Hot picks

1 Water’n Hole Bar & Grill (Waynesville) will host the “Hayweird Holiday Jam” and food drive with Soldier’s Heart (Americana/rock), Petticoat Government (Americana) and Helena Hunt (singer-songwriter) at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 27.

2 A daytime art show and brunch will be held at 1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 29, at The Cut Cocktail Lounge in downtown Sylva.

3 BearWaters Brewing Company (Waynesville) will have The Dirty Soul Revival (rock/blues) at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5. 

4 Award-winning bluegrass band Dailey & Vincent will kick off the holiday show season with their Christmas Show at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5, at the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts in Franklin.

5 Innovation Brewing (Sylva) will have Ol’ Dirty Bathtub (Americana/bluegrass) at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 25. 

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