What happens to a dream deferred?
As a Californian living in Lahore since 2010, I’ve often dreamt about the day my 12-person family would eventually come visit this beloved city/country.
Over the past 6 months, this dream finally began to materialize, as my family started planning their Pakistani debut. Over the past few weeks, however, this dream quickly began to disintegrate, eclipsed by literal nightmares my mother started having about the rejection of their visa applications given the unimaginable situation for their global counterparts, who were suddenly banned from visiting their own potential loved ones in the US.
And yet, despite the hostility the new administration is steamrolling on millions throughout the world, the Pakistan Consulate in Los Angeles miraculously approved my family’s visa last week, only two days after their apps had been submitted.
This was nothing short of an undeserved act of generosity and unconditional hospitality, to extend this welcome with open arms in a time when many of my Pakistani friends’ visa applications are getting sent “for further review” or denied outrightly. And when the new administration has yanked the welcome mat out from under the very people who actually “make America great.”
Before this act of generosity, my family had very little hope that their dream of visiting would be fulfilled, given the US administration has done the very opposite for our international neighbors.
And yet, as my family now plans their trip, they have a new hope, that even in the fog of such darkness, flickers of light can shine through. They have hope that my Pakistani friends, team members, students and community will embrace them with generosity and care when they arrive. They have hope that the country will see them not as “the other,” but as members of a global community.
And they have hope that in the time before their visit, we as Americans, can remember Dr. King’s dream of “freedom and justice,” remember that a dream deferred does not remain a dream for long, and remember that the American dream is not a dream that is bordered by religion or skin color or passports but a dream inspired by a shared set of values and dignity and generosity.