Yesterday was one year since my father died.
I wanted to do something to mark the occasion. So after breakfast, I bought a rose and threw it in the ocean, near my home in Los Angeles.
And then I sat on the shore and I remembered.
I remembered that nearly 75 years ago, a scared little boy hid in an irrigation ditch in Burma with his sisters while a column of Japanese soldiers camped just yards away. They sat in silence in the dark for two nights, eating handfuls of rotting food and drinking ditch water, until they could endure no more. And under the cover of darkness, they ran for their lives.
On their journey they passed through fields and cities, through forests, over mountains and across water. And then the journey lasted for the rest of their lives.
I remembered that the scared little boy became a difficult young man — a refugee in India before he became an immigrant in England. Always a stranger in a foreign land.
I remembered that the man built a new life for himself and a family, and how proud he was that I made it to America. But until the end of his days, he lived in the shadow of his childhood, and never became the person he could have been.
I remembered all these moments and what little else I knew of my father’s sad and difficult journey.
And then I remembered something else.
I remembered humanity
I remembered the lifeless body of a child washing in the water on a beach in Greece.
I remembered a stunned little boy covered in the dust and blood of a home that he would never see again, as frantic rescuers combed through wreckage of another Syrian street.
I remembered columns of soldiers, tanks and armored cars racing along a treacherous Iraqi highway to a city abandoned by the world.
I remembered a line of grim, grey ships, steaming through the English Channel, slowly bringing their cargo of suffering to a land already gripped in it.
I remembered forgotten children sitting alone in darkness, with the lights of prosperity shining through the gloom from Dover and Calais — so near, yet so far.
I remembered every new wall, fence, border and barrier built to seal us from the great wave of human suffering heading for our shores — and how it must feel to be robbed of a better life, with just yards to go.
I remembered the tents and heart-rending sprawl of refugee camps stretching over the horizon in Ethiopia, Jordan, Tanzania, and country after country.
I remembered that all these terrible scenes are just snapshots from a refugee crisis greater than anything in our history and almost greater than comprehension. More than 65 million people today have been forced to flee their homes — around the same number who perished in World War 2. Last year, 24 people fled their homes every minute of every day.
And then I remembered one last thing.
We don’t have to live like this.
Tomorrow, you can help turn the tide for humanity. Tomorrow you can vote for the world you want us to be.
The choice you make
Tomorrow, millions of Americans will vote in the most bitter and bitterly contested presidential election in memory.
It’s easy to see this as nothing more than a contest of personalities. This has been an election dominated by drama, insults and gossip. There has been little real discussion of real issues, so lost has informed commentary become in the brutal campaign cage fight.
But this election is about something far, far greater. More than anything, this election is a choice between two different visions of the world — and how America should be a part of it.
Tomorrow you have a choice between a future where America is open to the world, or closed — one where we are driven by a common compassion for the lives and communities beyond our borders, or one where our borders just got 10 feet higher.
If you believe in the ‘America First’ policies of Donald Trump, then there is much more to lose from the world than there is to gain. We have everything we need right here. Those who seek America’s help are principally scroungers who’ve ripped us off, menaces who threaten our communities or at least someone else’s problem. Internationalism is a dirty word.
I believe in a different vision of this country. Because I wear the labels of ‘immigrant’ and ‘internationalist’ with pride.
I believe that America was founded to guarantee the inalienable rights of all peoples to life, liberty and happiness. This is a revolutionary country — and that revolution will not be complete until the entire world is free.
I believe that America has been strongest when it has stood up for the weakest — from resisting imperialism to defeating fascism and communism. Compassion is our greatest strength, not the size of our walls. America doesn’t walk on by when it sees someone in need of a helping hand. That’s not who we are.
I believe that we live in an age of global challenges that deserve global solutions. America is a part of this world, not apart from the world. We should be confident and outwards-facing to the world, not scared and inwards-looking. Nations can solve more together than one nation can solve alone.
And I believe that America’s promise was built on the contributions of extraordinary people who came from all over the world, including many fleeing from war and persecution. Without the contributions of immigrants, you probably wouldn’t even be reading this (maybe you’re okay with that).
Diversity and openness to the world aren’t threats to this country — they are what make America great.
I’m with her. I’m with Earth.
If you believe in all these things, then Hillary is the clear choice.
Hillary is a leader who has spent her life working to build a world of greater common action and compassion — through government, through her philanthropic efforts, through this presidential campaign.
Everything Hillary has stood for in her career suggests that she will continue the tireless efforts of generations of American leaders to advance a world of greater openness, justice and freedom. She will work to build a country of greater compassion, progress and opportunity for peoples from all backgrounds, communities and walks of life.
That’s the world I want to live in. That’s the leader we need.
Tomorrow you have the chance to continue turning the global tide — from callousness to empathy, from misery to hope, from suffering to relief.
One lifetime ago, a little boy hid in the dark as the world fought itself to the end. One lifetime from now, I want to tell my grandkids that tomorrow, America chose not to step back from the march of progress or to consign coming generations to the same fate.
Tomorrow, vote for the the displaced, the oppressed, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Vote for those who can’t. Vote for humanity.