President Obama’s final State of the Union will be one for the books. Pledging to have an untraditional SOTU, President Obama has dedicated an empty seat in the House chamber to the thousands of men, women and children killed by America’s prevailing and seemingly never ending gun obsession.
However, Obama’s invited guest to his final State of the Union highlights an equally important issue currently facing not just the United States but the whole world – the plight of Syrian refugees. While Republicans rally around the bigoted, xenophobic fear-mongering lot that are Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, Democrats once again take a stand for what is right.
Sitting next to the First Lady will be Refaai Hamo, a Syrian scientist who has no been resettled in Troy, Michigan. Hamo became famous earlier last year thanks to the social justice project Humans of New York, who documented in depth his plight, escape and eventual resettlement.
According to his story on Humans of New York, Homa graduated high school in Syria with the third highest scores in the entire country. After graduation he worked nights in the construction business to pay for schooling, in pursuit of a PhD. His stated goal? Become a scientist and contribute to greatness of humanity. After marrying, Homa and his wife (who was attending law school) had two children, and lived relatively comfortable lives. After years of saving, careful budgeting and personal sacrifices, Homa built his family a large compound consisting of four large homes – yellow, pink, green and blue, all multi-leveled.
The government eventually bombed the homes, killing sixteen people, including seven members of his family. His daughter and wife were among those killed. That happened two years ago, and Homa says him and his children still suffer physically and emotionally.
Living in Turkey with cancer, Homa barely had any money to pay rent, medical bills, or to send his children to school. A once well respected constructionist was being paid one percent of what a Turkish citizen would be paid for the same work.
When Homa learned he coming to America, he had one glimmer of hope:
I learned today that I am going to Troy, Michigan. I know nothing about it. I just hope that it’s safe and that it’s a place where they respect science. I just want to get back t work. I want to be a person again. I don’t want the world to think I’m over. I’m still here.
President Obama has pledged to take in 10,000 refugees, may of them like Refaai Hamo – desperate, aching for opportunity and understanding – however, Republicans have done everything they can to stop the “influx” of “potential ISIS supporters” which, according to Chris Christie, means five year old orphans.
This will be the State of the Union where President Obama finally hammers Republicans for their heartless treatment of their fellow human beings. Their inability to do anything regarding the thousands killed by gun violence and the millions of displaced, abused Syrians.
I am so proud to call Barack Obama my president. This is what real leaders do – they lead not by fear, but by hope, optimism, compassion and love.
Featured image via Wikipedia