Christmas is a time for celebration and family. It should also be a time for reflection, appreciation for all we have, and remembrance of those who are in need.
While most of us are gathering with loved ones, there are Americans being held prisoner in repressive countries around the world—often for doing nothing more than practicing their faith, aiding the poor, giving voice to the voiceless, or serving their country.
At Christmas, it is appropriate for Americans to remember their fellow citizens in distress abroad.
We should also take a moment to appreciate how fortunate we are to live in a country that respects our rights and freedoms. Totalitarian governments around the world torture and imprison thousands of people for opposing the government, practicing their religion, or simply expressing their thoughts and opinions. The U.S. State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012 details arrest and arbitrary detention of political prisoners, disappearances, extrajudicial killings, and torture in many countries, including Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Zimbabwe.
It is a good time to remember these victims in our prayers, urge our government to try and help them, and support organizations that raise awareness of their plights.