A while back I made a cryptic post on Facebook that simply said, “I choose not to live in fear.” I am sure there were some that thought whoopdeedoo. Some may thought so what?
My Facebook feed has been full of posts lately about border security, border wall, refugee posts etc. I have stayed mostly silent on this issue as I know my opinion on this isn’t going to be the most popular of opinions with my of my friends. But as some of you know, that’s never stopped me before. I have been “on the fence” with some of these issues (yeah that was a pun) as well as I have a pretty deeply held believe and conviction on other aspects of this hot button topic. As with most of my political views, you can’t fit my views on any of this in a labeled box. That does not mean that I am two faced or wishy-washy on these views. It means that I don’t buy into a false dichotomy of “if you’re not ‘this’ then you are ‘that’. So I am going to try and give you an explanation of what I believe and why I believe it when it comes to this mess our country is in.
There are many of us that have never lived our traveled outside our country. And for those who have, chances are many have never been to a very poor “third-world” country where the annual income of most is less than what some of us make in a week. Last night my wife and I watched a wonderful movie called Lion. It was true story about a 5 year old boy from a rural remote part of India who use to steal coal off of freight-trains that were passing through his town. He and his brother would take this stolen coal and go and sell it for some money to buy food for their mom and sister. In one scene, they were able to afford the luxury of milk. Only two glasses of milk. They savored it and cherished what we look at as a simple staple of our nutrition. The young boy offered his mom a drink of it and his mother declined knowing that her son needed it more than she did. Ultimately one night while out looking for food and money the boy and his brother became separated and the 5 year old boy ended up on a train that traveled over 1000 miles to Calcutta. There he lived on the streets running from adoption traffickers. Ultimately this young boy was gathered up with others and was adopted by an Australian couple. This Australian couple gave this boy a wonderful life. Much better of a life than he could have ever received in India where he was from.
I myself could not imagine living such a life. I would guess most of you couldn’t either. To live a life so impoverished that you would steal for food. A life so impoverished that you lived on the street in a cardboard box running from people trying to steal you and sell you off like a commodity. This story has a happy yet greek-tragedy style ending. The little boy grew up and when he was old enough and able to, tracked down where he came from and went back to find his mother and brother and baby sister. As it would turn out, his brother died the night they were separated never to return home. The mom mourned the loss of her oldest son and spent the next 25 years wondering about her other. The end of the movie showed both of the man’s mothers meeting for the first time where the man’s biological birth mom was appreciative of the good life that the adopted family was able to provide for her son. The man’s adoptive mother stated repeatedly throughout the movie how blessed her and her husband (who they both were able to have children but chose not to) were to have this boy in their lives and raise him into the man he became.
Can we really imagine how bad it is for so many in our world? Can we really imagine how good we have it when the worst decision of our day is which pair of shoes should we wear with a certain outfit when we get dressed for work in the morning; when there are so many that don’t even have shoes and the only clothes they have are what they are wearing on their backs? Can we really imagine staring at the convenience store cooler door wondering which bottle of water to buy when there are so many that don’t even have clean water from a well or municipal water supply to drink? Can we really imagine complaining about having to buy a new bed and what color comforter to put on it when there are so many that don’t even have a bed or a blanket to sleep on at night? Has our society’s hearts become so hardened by what we have been told we need that we can’t have the heart to say, do I really need this? That movie last night isn’t the first movie, the first documentary, the first time I have thought about all the luxuries in life that I have and sit and feel guilty about it. I do.
Let us ask this question. I think it’s a good first question to ask. Why do people want to come to the United States? Why leave everything behind, everyone behind to travel to the United States? What is it about our country that draws people here?
The next important question is this. Do the poorest of the poor have it worse off than other places of the world?
Let’s think about this as well. Should we turn away anyone that is attempting to escape a corrupt government and country?
Let’s think about this analogy. You are sitting at home with your wife and kids scrolling through the hundreds of movie and series on Netflix on your 75 inch TV when you hear someone beating on your door. You hear the cries of a woman screaming for help. Screaming that two men are after her and they are trying to rape her. Do you say, I am sorry, my door is locked for the night and we can’t afford to help you. Just wait there at the door and hopefully nothing bad happens to you.
Honestly why is it that we want to turn people away from entering our country?
Ok, so some of you will use the defense argument. We need to keep that bad guys out of our country. I agree. We do need to keep the bad guys out of our country. So does that mean that we just not let anyone enter our country? Does that mean that we just turn away the woman beating on your door for help because we may let the rapists in by accident, or worse yet the woman is a wolf in sheeps clothing and she’s using your charity as a means to infiltrate your house. Yes this is the argument most are using for bolstering border security. It is a legitimate concern. There has to be a way without turning people away. There has to be a way for those trying to gain a better life for themselves, for escaping oppression without letting the oppressors in themselves. Do I believe in protecting our country yes. So we need to not turn away but yet streamline the vetting of refugees and those seeking entry into our country. How we do that is not up to me. Isn’t it reasonable to conclude that undocumented immigrants who enter our country don’t want to be undocumented. They just want a better life for themselves and their families?
I am not convinced that a physical border (a wall) is necessarily the answer. Personally I think that a physical border will do to immigration what gun control is doing to gun owners. It will only hurt those who follow the law and those who they are trying to keep out of our country will find another way. If they find another way then the crime argument becomes self refuting. That is to say we aren’t going to keep criminals out because they will find another way. But, barriers may be necessary at some places along the border. It may just not have to be a 30ft tall concrete wall. Should our current government shutdown hinge on a border wall. No. Our nation’s security is a very complex issue that’s going to involve more complexity than a static barrier.
A few thousand years ago 10 brothers sold their own little brother into slavery. Years later that baby brother rose to be the second highest official in his country. His brothers came to him not knowing who he was asking for help. After tormenting them and having some fun at their expense he agreed to help them ultimately helping their families with them allowing them to escape famine and destruction. One of these brothers ended up being a distant relative of Jesus. Two thousand years ago a husband and wife fled for their lives with their child to a foreign land to seek safety from their king who had issued an order to kill all boys younger than two years old. Joseph and Mary and the baby Jesus sought refuge in a foreign land to escape government oppression. I guess for our sake it was a good thing that Joseph of the Old Testament helped out his brothers seeking his help in a foreign land. I guess it was a good thing that when Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus got to Egypt there wasn’t any signs saying or policies saying stay out, no exceptions.
One day we will be judged on what we did and what we didn’t do. Hopefully when on that day when someone is beating on your door desperate for help you (or I) don’t turn them away telling them the door is locked for the night. Hopefully that person isn’t Jesus. After all Jesus said, “Whatever you didn’t do to the least of you, you didn’t do to the least of me.”
Lastly, for those of you that are afraid, afraid that people may enter our country and commit crimes, that people may enter our country commit acts of terror, that people may enter our country and use up all of our government aid leaving none for you, that people may enter our country and steal all of our jobs for themselves, for those afraid that people will enter our country and infiltrate our government, if you want to live in fear and be afraid that’s up to you. But I choose not to be afraid. I choose not to live in fear.