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Wading In the World’s River

Published: June 28, 2018

It started with a trickle of news in early June that, by the end of the month, had become a river of information as wide as the Rio Grande on our southern border. Illegal immigrants were being detained at the border, but more alarming, children from babies to young teens were being separated and housed away from — in some cases, far from — their families, an action condemned by medical professionals and citizens alike.

The river of news swept into Newtown on June 23, when residents gathered in the gymnasium of Edmond Town Hall to hear speakers address a policy challenged by Americans on both sides of the political stream. Despite an executive order on June 20 to end the separation of children from families at the border, it was apparent that the trauma inflicted on young children and confusion as to when and how families would be reunited remained serious issues going forward.

We can feel isolated from national events in our community. We separate ourselves from the horrors our fellow humans undergo all over the world, every day. We bend to the widely spread description of Newtown as a sleepy, bucolic New England community. It requires some nudging to accept that while we may be downstream from other tragedies, we feel the pull of the current, somehow, some way.

We have only to recall how the world reached out to us in our time of need to realize that Newtown, in Fairfield County, in the state of Connecticut, in the United States of America, in North America is connected globally. We have a responsibility to our fellow humans.

Local grassroots organizations in town have pointed out what they see as needing remediation: gun safety, school safety, social and emotional learning, environmental and climate concerns. They are world issues, and we now recognize that these, and the struggles of a fair immigration policy, are our issues as well.

What do we do? We add our voices to the voices of those committed to finding reasonable answers to difficult questions. We do so with decorum and respect for other opinions. When we perceive wrongs, we find ways to work together to resolve them so that our fellow residents, Americans, world citizens are accommodated in a manner that reflects the values that have made our nation great for more than 200 years.

That hundreds cared to attend the June 23 rally at Edmond Town Hall tells us that addressing world problems starts on the local level. Finding the answers to complex issues, to moral issues, will demand cooperation, but not complacency.

The immigration issue is a swirl of muddy waters. It is clear, though, that there remains work to be done to find solutions so that families are not torn apart, so that no more children suffer from parental separation, and to show that family values important in our lives are equally important in every life.

In Newtown, we choose love. We can continue to lead the way so that this motto, from our small town, resonates worldwide.

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