Reaching out to refugees is American thing to do

To the editor:

I support the proposed refugee resettlement program in Pittsfield. These couple dozen refugees are trying to get some semblance of their lives back and are not a threat to this community. They are a blessing and an opportunity for us to experience life beyond the bubble of our town.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, more than 780,000 refugees have come into this country. Of those, only three have been arrested for planning "terrorist activities." That is roughly one in every 260,000. (Migration Policy Institute.)

Just months after the horrors of the terrorist attacks on Paris, the French prime minister stated that France still intends to take in 30,000 refugees over the next couple of years. Some would call this idealistic and stupid, but I would like to think of it as refusing to fall victim to what groups like ISIS intend, which is to divide us.

If this was 100 years ago half the U.S. population wouldn't have been able to vote. If this was a little over 60 years ago and you were African-American you wouldn't be able to vote or sit where you wanted on a bus. If this was 30 years ago and you were part of the gay/lesbian community you would have been looked at as a pariah. Progress takes time, but we have far too many people believing some in the media that progress isn't happening and instead thinking the world is going to hell in a hand-basket.


To quote Neil deGrasse Tyson: "I am driven by two main philosophies: know more today about the world than I knew yesterday and lessen the suffering of others. You'd be surprised how far that gets you."

It is not mutually exclusive to both love your country and care for the suffering of all peoples who are struggling through such immense hardship. I believe that you shouldn't let the world tell you that our differences divide us, but instead let your human experiences and struggles show you how much we are the same.

Shaun Harmon, Pittsfield