We Are All in this World Together

We Are All in this World Together

Most days, I take a LYFT ride home from my meetings in Seattle. I take the opportunity to learn about the immigrant story of each of my drivers who represent cultures from all over the world. I take the opportunity to honor them and their journey-to affirm their hopes and dreams-to remind them and myself that we are all in this world together seeking a meaningful life for ourselves, our children and their children. Honoring each of them is one way I can pay homage to my grandparents, their courage and their sacrifice.

The Czars troops entered my grandmother’s Ukrainian village In the spring of 1913, rounded up all the Jews in the village, separating the men from the women and children. The troops proceeded to kill all the Jewish men while their  mothers, wives, sisters and children witnessed the horror.  My grandmother saw her father murdered in front of her eyes, while she held her first born child, my uncle, in her arms.

In the spring of 1996, I went on a journey to visit the villages of my paternal grandparents in the Chernobyl region of Ukraine. From the time I was a young child I was curious and later riveted by the stories I would learn about my grandparents leaving the villages of Ukraine to seek a life of safety, freedom, and opportunity in the United States. I had deep respect for my grandparents and the risks they had taken, now many years ago, to create the opportunity for a better life for my father and his siblings.

I have been aware for a long time, that it was their courage that laid the foundation for my own life and the opportunities I would have available to me. It is the profound gratitude and respect that I have for my grandparents journey that became the basis for the deep respect I have for all immigrants to our country and their drive to seek a better life for themselves and future generations.

Immigrants do not make the difficult journey frivolously or impulsively. They often fear for their basic freedom, health and safety. The lack of opportunity can easily bring despair. The immigrant journey is about having and fulfilling hopes and dreams.

My grandparents story and my desire to visit their villages was about seeking a connection to my roots. That journey would end up deepening my compassion for all people who live in danger of losing their lives-for all people who lack the freedom and opportunity to build a fulfilling life.