“I will build a great wall -- and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me --and I'll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.” – Donald Trump, June 2015
Sitting in church this morning, I heard, “God is love. God is not fear.”
It made me contemplate last week and the last few years. One of my favorite morning prayers and reflections includes:
“Breathe in love, breathe out fear.”
We see a lot of fear daily - on cable talk shows, tweets from the White House and peoples’ cyber-bunkers, and on our social media pages. It comes at us like a fire hose in this sorted digital age. It is easier today to be afraid, to be played, to be isolated, to keep seeking information only from sources that confirm our biases. It pervades our media, our declining methods of socialization and unfortunately Western Christianity today – our affinity for binaries and shaming those on the other side, without regard for their humanity. It is so easy to believe everything we think – me, you, all of us – unless we’re working regularly against these tendencies.
“Do not be afraid, I am with you. … I will strengthen you; I will surely help you.” – Isaiah 41:10
Beautiful, comforting words, whether you’re religious or not. So many Americans know them. So many ignore them. More of us are caught in the growing division. We’re losing our faith, or redefining it to suit us politically because the other side is so wrong.
I happen to believe our president is right about border security. He doesn’t talk about it the way I like – at all. Yet despite his obsession with the issue, it is a national problem (not an emergency, sheesh, so unconstitutional) that has needed attention. We do have crime and drug problems, much of it of our own making (the opioid epidemic) but some of it from across the border. We all know we’ve missed opportunities for compromises to achieve comprehensive immigration reform, to solve the DACA debacle, to liberalize our rigid visa programs, to invest in technology and resources at the border, and sure, to add fencing in places where illegals/the undocumented are making it through without being vetted properly.
Lack of reform has been costly. We no longer trust each other to discuss these matters rationally or calmly. We blame leaders, but it’s really our fault. We’re letting both parties play us. Fear, outrage, shaming, blaming … it’s in both playbooks.
As a result, the proposed solutions, the actions and the rhetoric have become more extreme, and unfortunately accepted and recycled. The far left wants to eliminate ICE and supports sanctuary cities. This administration separates children from parents who have nothing to do with crime or drugs. Christians I know say the 23-year old mother whose brother was murdered in El Salvador, who has three babies from whom she's been separated and who had no Internet access “should have known better.”
Too many friends on the far left and right have already built a wall they hate or want … their own. On the far left, there is dismissal of the rule of law and a dangerous acceptance to enable more violence and crime. On the far right, there is a lack of understanding of what it took to flee extreme violence and risk death on a treacherous journey. They forget so many who made the hard journey before today’s attempts have elevated everyone’s standard of living, especially theirs (plentiful freshly harvested food on dinner tables, beautiful landscaping, amazingly built, clean homes, booming hospitality offerings, and so much more).
On both sides, they dismiss, forget or care less about Christ’s wisdom to love one another and walk in other peoples’ sandals.
I know many people who are ready for something other than supporting open borders or being gamed with 21st Century McCarthyism. They want silence and presence. The truth. Love and hope. Joy. Real reform of our laws, yes, but mostly a renewal of open hearts and minds!
Hindus know this place. Sat-Chit-Ananda. Being-knowledge-happiness.
So do followers of Christ. Father-Son-Spirit. It's the same, no matter where it comes from.
God is Universal.
Let us pray … together.
“As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. … As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” —Nelson Mandela