By Avery Ramsey
Put yourselves in the shoes of a refugee. Think about getting a one-hour notice that you need to leave your country or, if you don’t, it could put you and your loved ones in danger.
Think about leaving your family members behind because they couldn’t survive the journey. These are all things refugees go through to have a chance of safety, not an assurance, but a chance.
I am writing on behalf of the young people of my generation. I am here to give voice to a message of love that we want the whole world to hear. Even though we are young, we are not so young that we do not see the world with the same eyes you do. As we all must do, we too must bear witness daily to the great surge of violence, warfare and intolerance which has created the vast populations of refugees today. As we do, we too must decide upon the part that we will play as this great chapter in human history is written.
I can assure everyone of this fact; our place is not on the sidelines. We will not hide in the shadows. Our voices will not be a part of the silence.
We choose today to stand in the very middle of the circle of the conflict which defines these issues. We stand there with our hearts and arms open wide, ready to greet everyone we meet as family and ready to witness our Creator in everyone we meet.
In all we do, in the things we say and write, we want the world’s refugees to know that they can find love in our hearts. They may find family in our homes. They may seek refuge in us.
As St. Francis did with strangers, with the homeless, with foreigners, refugees, and even with his enemies, we too know that we are called to see ourselves and God in everyone we meet. We are called to practice a love which penetrates the skin, a love which defies hopelessness, and a love which allows to create family with everyone we meet.
Those who seek refuge, those who hunger for hope, mercy, kindness, and compassion, should know that in this city of Louisville, when they meet a young person whose love is guided by faith, they will meet a person who has the courage to care and they will find a place where they can believe in miracles.
Making space for all those who seek to find a home and a family in our community, will take more than dreaming and prayers. It will require voices loud enough to be heard by all. It will require defiance and determination. It will require us to flex the muscles of our hearts! But rest assured that these are the very things which define the youth of Louisville. Remember, refugees don’t have a choice, but we do.
The world is filled at times with darkness. As we look to create family, as we push ourselves into one another’s lives, as we find brothers and sisters in whom all we meet we will create a brilliant light which shines with mercy and kindness. No shadow that the world can create will be dark enough to dim the light we make together, for together, we are all Kentuckians, thank you.
Avery Ramsey is a middle school student and a member of St. Francis of Assisi School’s Committee on Conscience, a service and social justice group for middle school students.—