What happens to the Next Generation of Refugees?
PART TWO: Each Generation Inherits the Troubles of the Past
A Series Written By of a Child of 2 German Jewish Refugees,
by Rick Landman - October 19, 2014
I've come to believe that "Nurture" (culture) is just as important in influencing our lives as our free will and "Nature"(DNA). When I started a group for children of Holocaust Survivors I noticed how many similar traits, quirks, and perceptions were shared by the members. It is not that hard to understand how what affected our parents influences us. So whether it was slavery, extermination, ethnic cleansing, or even things like alcoholism, which create what we now call Post Traumatic Stress can be "inherited" for the next generation will have to deal with it.
Whenever I hear of horrific stories of ot people having to flee and take refuge, my mind turns to how my parents (as teenagers) and grandparents must have felt when they took their journey. Maybe that is why I was there to protest for Soviet Jewry and volunteered as an attorney to help LGBT refugees from former Soviet bloc countries, Africa and the Middle East. Immigration takes on a different view when you can still picture the first Americans in your family who landed in America. Somehow as the generations pass, many people want to pull up the gangplank and let the newer immigrants drown.
Some countries have done a better job than others in trying to reduce the pain and make the transition easier; while other countries just ignore their past and just let things fester. America did right by me and allowed me to assimilate and eventually take part as a full citizen. I was given a future and consider America my home country. Germany did the right thing by accepting responsibility for the reason for fleeing and provided my grandparents with restitution and even restored the German citizenship that they removed with the 1935 Nuremberg Laws to my generation.
There were times in American history when we took too long to apologize and make amends for our wrong-doings. It took a while, but an apology finally came for how we treated our American citizens of Japanese, German and Italian heritage during World War II. We are still dealing with the ramifications of our treatment of the Native Americans and those people forced to come to America are still feeling the impact of slavery.
I hope to live long enough to see when we can put an end to all the pain of past generations and people will not need to flee their homes anymore. The only way I know how to reach this is through real dialogue between people and it should start now.