The New Colossus: An Amendment

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Based on The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus

I don’t claim to be a poet. The last time I studied poetry was probably in high school. That was a while ago. Recently, I was watching a new show (The OA), which featured a scene at the Statue of Liberty. Being from the west coast, I’ve never witnessed the statue in person, and I didn’t know anything about the poem that is featured at the exhibit. But as I listened to the words while watching the show, I felt my chest tightening in sadness and anger. The words really struck a chord with me. Strangely, the following day I saw quite a few news reports referencing the poem and describing feelings I’d become familiar with. With the recent moves the leadership has taken in this country, I felt compelled to amend the original poem by Emma Lazarus. The original words are in italic, my changes are bolded

I keep telling myself that I will fight the urge to be public with my opinions when it comes to politics. But I feel like we’re at a point where it’s not about politics anymore. It’s about humanity. This is my way to work through it, I guess.

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Compassion Served Here

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Trying something a little different from the usual prompt today – just some words of thought.

I don’t know if I’ve reached the age of reflection, or if I just have more spare time for my mind to wander now days. I find myself in deep contemplation about topics I’ve never considered or had a second thought about before. Is it wisdom I’m acquiring, or have I merely opened my eyes wide enough to see the whole picture for the first time? 

Why is it so easy to criticize another person? Why does it seem that the gut reaction for most situations is for judgement or ridicule? Relaying the scene to others, expressing the folly of the subject and how they should have reacted differently. Why is it second nature to stand by and watch a scene unfold rather than standing up for what’s right?

There are countless answers to these questions. There are right answers, wrong answers, intelligent answers, stupid answers. The reality is that it all comes down to perspective. Your perspective dictates which answer column a response falls into. And in the end, your perspective is what dictates your feelings regarding a situation. 

I have criticized. I have judged. I have laughed inappropriately. But I have began to learn to consider the other person’s perspective. I have began to understand what mindfulness is. 

There’s that saying, ‘You can’t judge another until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes’. It’s a saying that should apply to every situation one finds themselves holding a gavel. 

Being mindful of how your reaction or your words could be perceived by someone else is a big deal. I think this is lost to many with how our society promotes selfishness. I don’t think people honestly realize they are being self centered, they are just doing what everyone else does. But the reality of every situation is that there is always a consequence for an action. So whether you are the person who pulls out your phone to record a kid crashing their bike into a ditch, or the person who runs to offer assistance, or the person who yells what a dumbass they are – be prepared for what the reaction can be. 

And lastly, find a little compassion. I’m an idealist. I like to believe that a smile can change someone’s day. A polite conversation waiting in line at the grocery store can be the much needed attention someone ached for. Taking a moment to be grateful for what you have in life, whether it’s a mansion or a hut, an appetite for knowledge or a love for music. Simple things that make you who you are, things that shape where you are from and what you aspire to be. Let that inspiration of being you feed your compassion for others. Find the compassion to share with someone else, and pass it on.