In 1886, we received the Statue of Liberty as a gift. She was originally an Arab woman.

When it comes to symbols of what America stands for, we're pretty partial to the Statue of Liberty.

I mean, people would be pretty upset if this suddenly happened, amirite?


April O'Neil deserves a Pulitzer for this shot. GIF via Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game.

There's a reason we like it so much (and it's not just that comfy-looking robe that may or may not have been the world's first Snuggie). Lady Liberty stands for some of our most closely held values as a nation, and she even comes with an epic poem telling the world that we're ready to accept the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free."

It's a symbol of our reputation as a welcoming place for people from all over the globe — a reputation we don't always live up to these days. Since the horrid attacks in Paris, many have looked to close borders to Muslim refugees out of the fear of a potential terrorist attack, unleashing a tidal wave of anti-Muslim sentiment in the process. It's in our streets. It's in our schools. It's even found its way into our football games. The recent shooting in San Bernardino, California, may even intensify these feelings.

There's a huge irony here. The Statue of Liberty was originally born a Muslim.

Calm down, Urkel. It's true. GIF from "Family Matters."

Yes, according to a recent article published by Smithsonian magazine (and previously pointed out by The Daily Beast), the magnificent monument that represents everything we as a country stand for was originally envisioned as a Muslim peasant woman that would have stood guard over the Suez Canal in Egypt, not the New York Harbor.

That's because the statue's sculptor, Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi of France, originally pitched the colossal idea to Isma'il Pasha, the khedive of Egypt (something akin to a viceroy). Thankfully for us, Pasha refused, and Bartholdi soon “sailed to America with drawings of the Muslim woman transformed to the personification of Liberty," as The Daily Beast's Michael Daly put it.

From there, the statue was built by Gustave Eiffel (ever heard of the Eiffel Tower? Yeah, that guy) and gifted to us on Oct. 28, 1886, serving as a symbol of our country's open-door policy to those in need of safety and shelter.

Now, it's these Muslim refugees who need our help the most.

According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, there have been over 4 million documented Syrian refugees since the country's civil war began in 2011. Nearly half of those refugees have been children, and with winter rapidly approaching, they are facing a bigger risk of malnutrition and abuse than ever before.

Want some more statistics? Of the 784,000 refugees we have admitted since 9/11, only three were ever linked to any terrorist activity, and none of those admitted ever committed an act of terrorism on American soil (which is more than what can be said for people like alleged Colorado shooter Robert L. Dear Jr., who was born right here in America).

Terror attacks are horrible. But we can't let fear supplant reason.

You have a greater chance of dying in an asteroid apocalypse (1 in 12,500) than being killed in a refugee-related act of terrorism. So by turning our backs on millions of Muslim refugees out of fear, we are doing far worse than merely ignoring the words of our forefathers, the words of our Constitution, and the words that adorn our most beloved national symbol.

We are turning our backs on Lady Liberty herself.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
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Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

Amazon

In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

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In the hours before he was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States, then-President-elect Biden was sent a letter signed by 17 freshmen GOP members of the House of Representatives.

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The letter reads:

Dear President-elect Biden,

Congratulations on the beginning of your administration and presidency. As members of this freshman class, we trust that the next four years will present your administration and the 117thCongress with numerous challenges and successes, and we are hopeful that – despite our ideological differences – we may work together on behalf of the American people we are each so fortunate to serve.

After two impeachments, lengthy inter-branch investigations, and, most recently, the horrific attack on our nation's capital, it is clear that the partisan divide between Democrats and Republicans does not serve a single American.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.