Tag Archives: immigration

Chaos in Creation

My lunchtime view as I wolfed down a sandwich:

Thank You, Lord, for the beauty of Your creation in the midst of all our chaos.

As calming as this should be, I am not calm. After all kinds of discussion about immigration and security, I can’t help but think of the image of a three year old Syrian boy face down in the sand. He was one of the few out of the throng of people displaced by the crises in our world, one circumstance that caught our attention.

I can’t picture what his life was like. 

But I can picture my youngest boy, now six, the way he lights up every room he’s in and every face he sees. I try to picture him lying face down on the beach, but I don’t want to see that. 

So I try to picture someone explaining to me, in that circumstance, that “we’re worried about Trojan Horses and terrorist threats, that’s why we couldn’t help you.”

I try to imagine how absolutely hollow and self-serving those words would sound.

It’s hard. I don’t have answers or good policy suggestions. I just have these feelings on my mind that I need to get out.

Yeah, it’s a base appeal to emotion trying to stir up compassion. I always thought compassion was pretty exceptional. I always thought America was too.

But at least we’re sort of safe or something.

Innocent Because You're Guilty

There’s a response by Senator Elizabeth Warren to all the graphic Planned Parenthood videos going around–or rather, it’s a response to those who condemn PP and the abortion industry for contributing to a devaluing of human life in our culture. It basically boils down to, “You all are pretty bad about valuing life too, so there.” 

It’s the standard trope that goes like this:

“Well, if the GOP and these so-called ‘pro-life’ people are so concerned about life, then they’d be more motivated to help people in need, like immigrants and refugees, instead of trying to kick them out and build a wall. They’d be more supportive of funding those living in poverty, providing for basic care, helping that new mother out after she gives birth to the baby they’re all worried about. They’d care about the children who are the same lump of cells and tissue after birth that they were so defensive about when that was a fetus in some mother’s womb. 

“This is how you know they’re not really pro-life, they’re just anti-abortion, anti-women, anti-freedom to choose. And so, just disregard all this evidence and all these allegations, because who wants to listen to those anti-abortion types anyway?”

That’s not an exact quote. That’s just the gist of the argument, as summarized by someone else. It’s also the same stuff I’ve heard over and over from abortion defenders. 

“You’re better off not thinking about what they say. Trust us. Everything’s fine.”

Some good Left-leaning friends taught me long ago (by pointing out when the GOP did it) that “when people don’t have any defense for their position and ideas, they attack the opposition and ignore the facts.”

That’s what you see here: Distraction and misdirection.

I think Warren and others make great and valid criticisms about the GOP, or the pro-life movement, or the Religious Right, or whatever group we want to call out. We’ll talk a lot of Jesus, go after what we claim are moral and societal ills, and sing the praises of personal charity. But when it’s obvious that personal charity isn’t on the scale required to address the overwhelming need, we’re still quick to condemn government intervention and support to the poor.

Yes, those critiques are valid, deserving of not just discussion but also action. We have to practice what we preach. We haven’t always fully lived up to the moniker “pro-life.”

That doesn’t sweep arguably immoral and allegedly criminal actions under the rug.

If fetuses are being accidentally born too quickly then they’re not fetuses, they’re infants. If they’re being harvested for parts after that point, then tissue isn’t being collected for medical research, human beings are being murdered. If everything is so kosher, then explain the myriad attempts by PP officials to distance themselves in the unedited videos from public backlash or government scrutiny. All of that still matters, even if you’re right and I’m wrong about some other political issue like welfare or immigration. 

My ignorant position on that subject doesn’t cancel out your intentional ignorance of allegations of murder.

If you get pulled over for drunk driving, you can’t point at a bunch of speeding cars and say, “What about them?” expecting to avoid the consequences of your actions.

But it’s okay. “Everyone knows pro-lifers are hypocrites… so just trust us, there’s nothing to see here.”

Except there is. 

I guess maybe the eleventh video might finally drive the point home. 

Who Is My Neighbor?

There’s a new Golden Rule in some parts of America, and it goes something like this:

“Do unto others according to the amount of taxes they pay to your government.”

I saw a link on my Facebook feed where a Tea Party group is enraged because illegal immigrants were given government EBT cards to purchase food. Various groups scream on social media with headlines designed to inflame instead of inform.

“Those are taxpayer dollars!”

“We have vets who go homeless while illegal immigrants are housed. It’s not fair!”

All this (predominantly Right-Wing) fury makes me wonder.

I think of someone the Right often claims as one of their own: Jesus. Specifically, I think of when the lawyers and religious leaders came to Him asking “What is the most important commandment?” The story is captured in Luke’s Gospel (chapter 10, starting in verse 25ish)

He boiled it down to “Love God with everything, and love your neighbor as yourself.”

One of the lawyers looked for the loophole in this broad and sweeping command. Luke writes, “He, wishing to justify himself, asked ‘Who is my neighbor?'”

Great question. Jesus answers with the story of the Good Samaritan who encounters a victim in need. The Samaritan goes out of his way to take care of someone his culture said was his enemy. Jesus asks, “So who was the victim’s neighbor?” The answer the lawyer gives is: “the one who shows mercy.”

I for one would like my government, my society, and my country to be known for mercy.

The argument I hear is, “Well, why not let citizens be charitable instead of giving away tax dollars and American money to all these people?” It’s the same argument for doing away with or cutting back welfare and other forms of aid to the poor. Why can’t we let individuals and faith-based organizations give and serve, so that our government can use the money to take care of America’s other pressing needs?

Sure! That would be great… if enough people were doing it that government didn’t have to step in. But that’s not happening. Not enough individuals or charitable organizations are stepping up to the plate. So it’s either let people suffer because they’re not Americans, or because of their supposed and presumed bad life choices, or because hey life sucks and not everybody wins.

Or we can show mercy.

Mercy is costly. Mercy takes away from our resources to meet the needs of another. Mercy doesn’t focus on who “deserves” it.

Yeah, it’s your tax dollar. Sure, there’s a lot our government could do better. Of course I want immigrants to follow legal methods. No, when you boil it down to an overly simplistic question, I don’t think it’s fair that a veteran might go homeless while someone who’s not even a citizen gets cared for. Sure, I do wonder whether we’re feeding people we’ve detained while sorting out what to do with them, or handing over a bunch of electronic money without any concern for who we’re giving it to.

But Jesus didn’t say, “Suffer the law-abiding citizens to come unto Me.” He didn’t tell a tale of the Good Taxpayer who ensured his denarius was spent only on his nation’s citizens. I have a hard time picturing Christ flipping tables where detained illegal immigrants are being served food, or chasing the immigrants out of Wal-Mart.

And I remember the symbol of hope Ameica is to many on distant shores (and across distant borders). The plaque on the Statue of Liberty doesn’t say, “Give me your wealthy, give me just your best and brightest, give me those who have no needs and no worries.”

It doesn’t say, “Give me your tired, your poor, your outcasts… so I can send them back, rejected.”

There are better ways, perhaps. Reforms are needed, and a balance has to be found between a secure border and an open welcoming society.

But I feel like this pic from the Left calls the Right out on a political and philosophical disconnect.


Let us not be those who, wishing to justify indignity and indifference, ask “And who is my neighbor?”