May 28 2019

Last week, I penned a piece in the Chronicle of Philanthropy regarding my concern that too many of our colleagues in philanthropy may be “sleepwalking” though a political and civic moment our nation finds itself currently in – and that perhaps our capacity to be outraged has been narcotized.  A few folks emailed in some rah-rah support for the piece, but by and large, the response was, shall we say….sleepy?

I recall that when I was in college, there was a popular little diddy by singer/songwriter Paul Simon entitled “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.”  Since the Presidential election of 2016, I have a song brewing in my head called “50 Reasons to be Outraged” – except this song is not the upbeat, finger-snapping tune from my college years.

Being this outraged for this long can’t possibly be good for my blood pressure, and my systolic pressure was nudged a few points higher this past week when news reports surfaced that a SIXTH death of a migrant child at our border, in our custody, over the past eight months.  This time it was a ten-year old little girl from El Salvador with a history of heart disease.

Here’s what a United Nations agency on migration reported last week: There has been a substantial reduction in the number of migrants apprehended or detained at the U.S. southwestern border, from a 611,689 figure in 2016 down to 341,084 in 2017 – a 44% reduction.  But despite this reduction, the number of migrant deaths has increased, from 398 in 2016 to 412 in 2017.

I spent part of my Memorial Day weekend in reflection over the sacrifices that men and women in our Armed Forces have laid down at the altar of freedom over the past two centuries.  But I also reflected on freedom-seeking migrants and refugees as well, and this number of migrant child deaths in the custody of our federal government is particularly infuriating.

I’ll spend some portion of this coming week reaching out to the warrior non-profits our foundation has been supporting, who fight on the front lines of immigration and border issues in California and along the southwest border, providing humanitarian and legal support. Let’s find out from them what more must be done and what more can we do as a health foundation.  If you have thoughts, send them into us by entering them into the comments section below.

Message to elected officials, business and civic leaders, and leaders in philanthropy on this issue:  As Paul Simon says in his song, “No need to be coy, Roy, just listen to me…” – Be outraged.


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