Today, I joined other social entrepreneurs like Aria Finger (DoSomething), Scott Harrison (charity: water), Jay Herrati (TEDx), Jeff Skoll (eBay, The Jeff Skoll Group), Premal Shah (Kiva), and dozens more to open a dialogue with President Trump about refugees, immigrants, and his recent executive order, now being challenged in the courts.
I believe we are better when we open ourselves to others, when we show up for refugees—whether they are in the U.S. or among the vast majority who will never leave their home region.
I also believe you can care about security and vetting and still love refugees. Even if they can’t cross our borders, we can still cross theirs and show up with food, water, medical care, jobs, income—as we’re doing right now in Syria and Iraq to help displaced families rebuild their lives and flourish where they are.
This is not a Democratic issue. It’s not a Republican issue. It’s not a “left vs. right” issue. It’s not a “pro-Trump” or “anti-Trump” issue.
It’s a “we belong to each other” issue.
As our joint statement says:
We have always found that the most powerful solutions for societal ills only emerge with the intimate involvement of those whom we work to serve. Diversity is the lifeblood of social, economic, and political progress.
There is room at the table for everyone—for refugees who are fleeing war and just want a safe place to live, for those who want to welcome them with open arms, and for those who want to make our borders secure and make sure our kids are safe from terror.
We don’t deny the fear. We don’t deny the risk. We don’t deny the wisdom of smart policies that prioritize security. But it’s possible to care about our lives so much that we end up strangling the very thing we’re trying to protect.
What if our well-being is actually bound up in the well-being of our refugee neighbors? If this is the way the world actually works—if we really do belong to each other—then the best way to secure happiness, security, and meaning for ourselves will require us to think differently about how we get what we most desire.
To acknowledge the fear, to count the cost, and then take one step toward “the other”—that’s how we truly live.
This refugee crisis is not something that government alone can solve. But governments can support policies that either hinder or help our efforts. Those of us in the social entrepreneurship sector have given our lives to ensure that we build the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible. Even if it costs us everything we have, we know we cannot give more than we gain.
Our letter is not fist-shaking activism. Our hands are open, offering what we have seen and experienced around the world, inviting President Trump into a conversation about how we can protect our country and love refugees well.
There’s room at the table for everyone.