As I saw the thousands of you gather around airports in the country, chanting against a ban that sees only hate, I couldn’t help but be amazed at how wonderful you are as people who care about others who are being targeted for things out of their control, for standing up to those of us who are weakened across the world.
To the protestors who stormed city squares and airports in a completely spontaneous manner because they couldn’t sit by and be complacent to such injustice, thank you.
To the translators offering their tongues and time to people whose voices have been taken away from them, thank you.
To the lawyers and the ACLU offering everything that they can give to those who have nothing to offer back, thank you.
To the army veterans, whose chests are adorned with Purple Hearts, standing at airports because this isn’t what they fought for, thank you.
To those who have defied their parents, friends and comfort zones to stand up for what’s right, thank you.
To the employers making sure their employees know their workplace is a place of inclusion, not exclusion, thank you.
To the hospital program directors who are making sure to reassure residency applicants, that are needed by America so, that their programs don’t look at country or race or visa status, thank you.
To the celebrities whose views have been chastised for so long, who have painted their bodies and advocated from the most watched podiums for those whose entire lives have been uprooted because of a signature, thank you.
To the taxis of New York, who risked their livelihoods for humanity, thank you.
To those applauding at airports as detainees were let free, for bringing tears to our eyes for your solidarity, thank you.
To the American companies, like Starbucks and Lyft, who want to hire refugees and are standing against oppression, thank you.
To the conservatives who voted for the man causing this, and who are now shell-shocked about what is taking place and refusing to stand by it, thank you.
To the Republicans who are not represented by this man and who refuse to partake in this, thank you.
To the Christians in America who know their religion is about love and acceptance, who know that Jesus wants them to turn the other cheek and not cower away in fear, thank you.
To the wonderful Americans who are spending their days and nights and all their free time shouting to whoever could listen that there are values in this world that are more important than politics, thank you.
To the ones who see us as people, not as baggage with frightening connotations in societies they don’t understand, people who should be given the same chance at a better life that their ancestors got, thank you.
Over the last few days, you have shown us an America that is, truly, a beacon of hope for the world, and hope is the weapon that scares those who feed on hate the most: to know that despite everything that they do, there will still be people who will not stay silent or complacent or succumb to fear.
I’m typing this today on a New York subway, in awe of what you are accomplishing and humbled by the outflow of compassion you are showing people you’ve ever met, that you’ve been taught all your life to fear and believe they only want what is bad for you.
The freedom which you are exercising is the embodiment of the foundations your great country was built upon, that which entrances anyone who sees it, that which welcomes in all the weary, the tired, the poor, and the huddled masses waiting to breathe in that same freedom.
You are showing us every day that, in a world overtaken by darkness, that ideals can overturn tyranny and that it is okay to still hope in the face of such atrocities.
To paraphrase J.K. Rowling: “[hope] can be found in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light.” Thank you for shining bright.