Each day feels as if there’s a new set of rhetoric that emerges that responds to yesterday’s arguments and many of our own thoughts feel instantly uninformed and somewhat antiquated.
For the past few weeks we have been watching a series of events of children being separated from their parents as they were attempting to cross the US border.
It’s been compounding on a number of levels. How do we deal with the illegal immigration problem that has become even more politically loaded and increasingly morally intricate?
How does a nation protect its borders, how do we grant asylum to those truly in desperate need, how do we identify and confront actual evil-doers, who do we turn away and why and how do we do this with mercy and justice? These and many other questions fill our minds and airwaves. And so does all the rhetoric.
Like with all complicated matters, it’s tempting to over-generalize. From “Lock them all up, we don’t need anyone else!” to “Open it up to everyone, we’ll find space!.” Most of us have heard a variation of these over the years. These sound-bytes may be cathartic for some, but to say it politely, don’t really give us a pathway for a solution for these arduous matters at hand.
There’s the problem and then there’s how we talk about the problem. How many times has a conversation shifted to debate and then mutated into something ugly?
We began as friends, turned into combatants and left unsure how our friend can be so wrong on this issue. Intentions are assumed, loyalties are questioned, ideologies are attacked and often convictions become trampled on. It’s no wonder the frustration is at breaking point.
Per usual, the information comes in pieces. In this case of migration and child separation, we ask if these migrants are being caught crossing illegally, are they coming to border offices requesting asylum, from exactly where are they coming from and why are they fleeing, do these children actually belong to these parents? And even more questions arise.
And per usual, the answers vary. But we don’t always acknowledge that. For some it limits the leveraging of the moment to the desired outcome. And this is a problem in American civl discourse. Over-generalization and rushing to our tribe’s set-conclusion is not only dividing us further, but also creating greater distance for needed solutions.
From some of the reports given across the spectrum of news outlets we could acknowledge that some families were leaving violent towns in Guatemala and El Salvador and other places. We can also acknowledge the reports that some seem to be using the legitimacy of that reality and using that as a cover to pursue the same reason for entrance. They could also be in a similar dire situation, they could be an evil-doer, they could be something else. (If interested, see the Daily Podcast – June 19, 20 and 21 – https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/the-new-york-times/the-daily-10 ).
We learned of more complications like the court system that is dedicated to hearing each person’s case is incredibly back-logged and the system is overwhelmed by other burdens that this post cannot adequately capture.
Misdemeanors that were now felonies, deterrents that were no longer described as deterrents, zero-tolerance language, the verbal battles, the blame-shifting and loaded sound-bytes were all in the air and adding to the frustration and anger. And since we each have a biased filter, we heard it differently from one another.
By the end of last week, the President signed an executive order saying the practice of separating children would be stopped. And while there was no given plan of reuniting these families, many of us are holding on to an optimism that our government will work fast here. And new information keeps trickling in.
What have we learned? Well it depends on your governing ideology.
As one whose first loyalty is to Jesus as my King, then I must say I was terribly grieved by all of this. I continue to believe that there must be a way for a sovereign nation to defend its borders with law, justice and also with mercy and charity.
I continue to be careful of the allure of political power. It feels like a fair observation that some Christians, who may have felt like they were on the outside for a stretch of years, now enjoy feeling like they are on the inside. It also feels fair to say that some finally feel fairly represented. However we want to describe that is another story and I humbly suggest that it’s a secondary story in contrast to the essential story of how Jesus modeled the use of power and influence.
My hope is that we may never sell-out the message and values of Christ’s Kingdom for any worldly, political gain. Where these values align, praise God, where they differ, may we pursue the Lord’s wisdom in not forsaking our true Lord for any substitute, less our actions be exposed as pursuing a form of idolatry.
And lastly, I continue to hold on to Jesus’ words that we ought to be mercy showers.
Mercy. If there was ever a virtue the people of Jesus should pick-up and champion in such a time, it’s mercy.
And that’s where the next post picks up.