Give me your tired.

Photo by @michaelchristopherbrown, also for @natgeo.

I caught this picture on National Geographic’s Instagram page a couple days ago. The simplicity of it reminded me first of lines from Emma Lazarus’ 1883 sonnet, “The New Colossus.” It’s engraved at the base of the statue of liberty (though not until 1903, at the persistence of her friend Georgina Schuyler). Emma had a rich history around immigration, herself, and her eventual pursuance of that prompted a legacy of service to others. After learning about the immigration of Ashkenazi Jews from Russia in 1881, she wrote widely about it and advocated for Jewish refugees. “She helped establish the Hebrew Technical Institute in New York to provide vocational training to assist destitute Jewish immigrants to become self-supporting.” Also inspired by “The New Colossus” was another one of Emma’s friends (the daughter of Nathanial Hawthorne) who founded the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne.

“The New Colossus”

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!”

Second, I thought the above photo showed well the anxiety around the Muslim immigration executive order. The United States is a nation of immigrants. Many people groups have come here to escape tyranny, poverty, and economic difficulties. Originally intended as a symbol of independence for the United States, the statue of liberty came to also represent freedom to those who choose to come here.

Many are entreating the nation to remember this history. Not just that we all came here from somewhere–Ireland, Africa, Italy, Germany, Mexico, etc.–but also that if allowed to sink into fear, history can (and does) repeat itself. George Takei highlights the words of Carl Higbie and reminds us of an easily forgotten point:

“‘We did it during World War II with Japanese, which, you know, call it what you will,” [Higbie] said. Was he really citing the Japanese American internment, [Megyn] Kelly wanted to know, as grounds for treating Muslims the same way today? Higbie responded that he wasn’t saying we should return to putting people in camps. But then he added, “There is precedent for it.’

Stop and consider these words. The internment was a dark chapter of American history, in which 120,000 people, including me and my family, lost our homes, our livelihoods, and our freedoms because we happened to look like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor. Higbie speaks of the internment in the abstract, as a ‘precedent’ or a policy, ignoring the true human tragedy that occurred.”

Because they looked like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor. Punishing many for the actions of a select group.

The reality of jihad extremism is real. But like the Japanese and other ethnic groups, we must actively remember not to conflate advocating safety with creating a caricature of monsters. Don’t give yourself over to fear. Choose to make room for listening and understanding. Everyone has needed it, and we’ll all keep needing it.

It’s all in your head.

I’m still a little embarrassed when people find out I have depression.

Find out. As if I’m a felon who’s committed robbery or murder. I haven’t, yet the stigma of mental illness commands almost the same level of secrecy. It’s the elephant in the room. It’s paisley and dancing Gangnam style and you’re desperate to glance, but no one is saying anything about it.

Banksy understands. It’s not dancing, but how could you not look at this?

People are avoidant, seeming to experience secondhand self-consciousness about this thing they don’t understand or understand all too well. If they’ve experienced mental illness themselves, they know the battery of the self. The black hole and cyclone going on in your own mind that can render you incapable of living. Or, if they’ve lived with someone who has mental illness, they’ve experienced the battery of others. The grip is tight.

It’s embarrassing to admit your brain can act without you. You can’t control it.

Continue reading “It’s all in your head.”

Get ’em started young.

Science, a publication of American Association for the Advancement of Science, released a peer-reviewed, data-heavy article on January 27 that, as young as the age of 6, girls as associate higher intellectual capability with boys.

“…girls were prepared to lump more boys into the ‘really, really smart’ category and to steer themselves away from games intended for the ‘really, really smart.'”

The article suggests this may have long-term effects on what types of career choices and hobbies women pursue as they age. Hence, why there is often an imbalance of women and men in “fields whose members cherish brilliance (such as physics and philosophy).”

Theoretical physicist, Bulbul Chakraborty. Image via Brandeis University.

The authors concede that “little is known about the acquisition of this stereotype.” But that, “The earlier children acquire the notion that brilliance is a male quality, the stronger its influence may be on their aspirations.” Meaning, the sooner it’s learned, the deeper it seeds itself in behavior.

Obviously, adult women overcome all kinds of subconscious childhood assumptions to work and live how they prefer. But these findings do serve to highlight the reality that a correlation between which sex is more intelligent starts extremely early, despite all of us being born with a brain and the ability to use it in equally as curious and competitive ways.


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