Dark days are upon us now, but do they have to be? The late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said if we don’t live as brothers (and I assume he meant sisters too) then we’ll perish together as fools. King said that years ago during the American Civil Rights era. He came to prominence in 1954 at the beginning of the Montgomery bus boycott and died in 1968 from an assassin’s bullet. King’ devoted his career to non-violence and equality for all. Where are we now? Surely some of King’s dreams came true; some have not. There is more work to be done but the deep seated hatred for Blacks shifted to Latino immigrants who toiled under a blistering hot sun picking grapes, apples and walnuts often for slave wages. Latino immigrants worked in slaughter houses under brutal conditions where on the job injury rates are among the highest in the nation. Many settled in the US raising families, sending children to school. They bought houses, cars and contributed to the economy. As their numbers increased, Americans said put on the brakes. We can’t have this many Latinos here. It’s a travesty. Lawmakers desperate for re-election pandered to those misplaced fears. They passed law after law targeting Latinos. Arizona boldly took the lead and then bragged we’ll build a wall of shame. Keep out those pesky immigrants, seeking jobs and escaping violence at home, much of which is traced back to the illicit drug trade in the US. Oh yes, your darling junior who snorts coke at high school is part of the complex problem of drugs and violence overseas. That’s for a much larger discussion, however. Instead of facing reality such as the lower birth rate in the US and the pressing need for low wage labor, the US has a knee jerk reaction. Kick out the immigrants. It’s not their fault that companies, in the never ending quest for the almighty dollar, close down factories and pack up jobs like produce and ship them overseas. Build that wall. Create a climate of fear. Blame our problems, all of them, on the Latinos, especially the Mexicans. It’s all their fault. Get out. And get out they did. We deported them by the thousands, even though there is a chronic labor shortage in certain industries like the fast food industry, meat packing and farming. And now fast forward to Muslims, especially Syrians and Iraqis. We invaded Iraq for no good reason in 2003. We killed over 100,000 Iraqi citizens and demolished their homes and businesses. Imagine if that happened to us? What an appalling and inappropriate reaction to the 3,000 people who died on 9/11. Saddam Hussein was a ruthless dictator but he was not culpable in the murderous assault on 9/11. The Iraqi people had problems of their own but they suffered needlessly as a result of George W. Bush. So did thousands of US soldiers who died or were severely injured. Then the USA doesn’t even want to pay for their health care. Imagine that gall? Is it any wonder why there are terrorists in Iraq who despise the US? And Syria. Syria morphed into a complicated thicket of terrorists fighting each other. The original goal to oust Assad became lost after the country descended into madness. Inside the gruesome remains of a nation of 22 million people that once reasonably functioned is now a utter shambles. Innocent people are desperate to leave. They want nothing to do with the rebels or the scum known as ISIS. They just want peace, calm and tranquility like everyone else. And now some Republicans call them rabid dogs and other disparaging names. The US Congress just passed a law to restrict their settlement into the US. What’s wrong with the US, an allegedly Christian nation? I was never an observant Christian (I am now a Muslim convert) but Jesus would not turn his back on the poor or suffering. Why is the US shunning immigrants who need us now? Shame on us and shame on anyone disparaging immigrants. There are some men and a few women (I cannot even call them Muslims) who commit crimes in the name of Islam. They do not represent the vast majority of the world’s over 1 billion Muslims. We do not condone their frightful behavior. But we are held culpable for their barbarism. Everyone can and should do better – Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, and Buddhists. There’s room for improvement everywhere. If we don’t want dark days to continue to swallow us whole, then let love, light, and hope lead the way. Everyone can make a difference. And peace begins with a smile. Just one person can change the world for the better. Let that person be you. And let the process of healing begin today. It’s never too late for change to begin.