As most of my friends and readers know, I have spent some time serving, at my own expense, in some of the world's saddest, most underdeveloped places.
I have personally worked with sex-trafficking victims. I've heard their stories, and helped them find education and new job skills. I have worked in hospitals and tent cities with disaster victims. I have volunteered in orphanages. I have held dying babies who had no other family to hold them in their final moments. I have driven ambulances and fire trucks at lightning speed. I have pulled people from car wrecks. I've seen families sob as they accept the death of a loved one.
I acutely feel the pain of the refugees fleeing our common enemies. I have not yet met them. But I can imagine their circumstances and fear.
Today I find myself grateful for federal judges who had the bravery and confidence to stand up to a president (a president who likes to make threats and taunts and insults to those who disagree with him), to uphold the Constitution and American values. (When the president openly admires some of history's most vile and corrupt leaders, it must be terrifying to defy him, wondering what he might do to you in retribution.)
I have been patriotic for as long as I can remember. My earliest childhood memories involve political rallies for a party I can no longer support. I have served on Capitol Hill. I have served on presidential campaigns. I've hosted phone banks. I've canvassed neighborhoods.
I believe in democracy, free trade, capitalism, and that America was build as "one nation under God," and in "liberty and justice for ALL."
More than anything, I believe in free speech. I thank God every day for the right to express ourselves openly, without fear of punishment. I believe in free press, and that good journalism means telling every side to a story, even if and when it makes you enemies. And I believe most of all, that no one, especially no government or political leader, can or should control the press and what every they may choose to say.
And all of these reasons, held deep in my heart, and on my sleeve, are why I must do something to help the refugees. I am reminded of a scripture from the Book of Mormon, Alma 60:27-28.
"And I will come unto you, and if there be any among you that has a desire for freedom, yea, if there be even a spark of freedom remaining, behold I will stir up insurrections among you, even until those who have desires to usurp power and authority shall become extinct.
28 Yea, behold I do not fear your power nor your authority, but it is my God whom I fear; and it is according to his commandments that I do take my sword to defend the cause of my country, and it is because of your iniquity that we have suffered so much loss."
Many times in my life this scripture has jumped out at me, inspired me, and reminded me, that it is God that I fear, and not mankind. I fear the judgment of God if I do stand up for what is right.
I am only one person. But I know my skills. I know what I have to offer the world. I know what resources are at hand for me to make a difference. And that is why I have chosen to sell t-shirts, so that others, like me, can wear our beliefs proudly. We can show others that there is still a "spark of freedom remaining." And by doing so, and selling the shirts, I can raise money to give directly to refugee organizations in Germany this summer.
I will in Germany this summer in a town where we know there are several refugees already. I know that by personally bringing the funds and donations with me, I will be able to give it to refugees at a more personal level. The money will not get lost in the overhead of large nonprofit expenses. But will go to getting clean clothes, toys, and food, directly into the hands of those who need it most.
I hope you will consider supporting the cause. Even if you don't want a t-shirt, you can make a donation. The t-shirts come in men's, women's, and youth versions and sizes.
Thank you all for your support. It means more to me than you will ever know!