It’s been a hard week.

Pentagon officials verified on Sept. 17 that an Aug. 29 a drone strike killed 10 civilians, including children. The Pentagon characterized it as a “tragic mistake.”

In an attempt to seek “retribution” for an attack that killed 13 U.S. military personnel and dozens of Afghan citizens, the nation finds itself once again weighing the consequences of deadly force used on innocent civilians.

Over the last few days, photos emerged near Rio Grande, Texas, on the southern border of the United States, showing U.S. Border patrol agents on horseback confronting and chasing Haitian migrants. The White House called the images “horrific.”

As I read and listened to both stories unfold over the last few days, a deep sense of darkness and sadness has overcome me.

While we have found a great amount of hope over the last year, we are reminded this week that while some things change, some things remain the same.

The United States of America continues to rock back and forth between being a beacon of freedom and democracy on the one hand, and an imperial force wielding her power without accountability on the other.

Over the last several years, I have asked the questions: “What kind of country do we want to be? What kind of people are we? What are we striving for? What kind of country do we want others to know and experience?”

If there is one monument that most citizens celebrate and cherish as a symbol of a benevolent democracy, it’s the Statue of Liberty. The statue was a gift from France, designed by Frederic Auguste Bartholdi with the metal framework built by Gustave Eiffel. It was dedicated on Oct. 28, 1886, 21 years after the American Civil War.

In 1903, the U.S. put the 1883 poem “The New Colossus,” by Emma Lazarus, on the statue’s pedestal.  Lazarus’ words are often cited when we think of the kind of democracy the country strives for in our attempt to become a more perfect union.

Therefore, as I try to see light through darkness this week, I reflect on the powerful image of Lady Liberty with torch in hand and Emma Lazarus’ words reminding us about fellow sojourners looking for a safe place to live.

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “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-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

As people of good faith, let us always remember we are children from the Mother of Exiles who holds her lamp high for those needing safe harbor.

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