A Time for Speaking Out

Statue of Liberty

“Where you see wrong or inequality or injustice, speak out, because this is your country. This is your democracy. Make it. Protect it. Pass it on.”  Thurgood Marshall

“Speak up, judge righteously, and defend the rights of the afflicted and oppressed.”  Proverbs 31:9, International Standard Version

I am shaken by sadness and distress over what is happening in our country.  A horrifying example is the Trump administration’s actions in separating children from their parents at the southern border of the United States.  The facts and implications of this situation show we have not learned the lessons of history.  Those lessons might have taught us to turn away from fascism and authoritarianism, racism, and government-sanctioned cruelty and injustice.  I do not understand, or do not want to accept, how we have allowed the current situation to fester and thrive.

Yes, I understand that Donald Trump has the desire to have authoritarian control.  I understand that he and members of his administration are (based on the evidence of their words and actions) racist and lacking in feeling and empathy for their fellow human beings.  I am gratified that a majority of Americans oppose the policy of separating children from their parents who are attempting to enter the United States.  But I do not understand why, nevertheless, the majority of Republicans are not also outraged at the administration’s actions.  How would they feel if their children were among those being held?  What if these Republicans were facing gang violence and threats to their children in their home country?  Wouldn’t they try to get their children to a better situation?  And if they did try, would they then accept having their children taken from them?

Particularly shocking to me is the support that Trump’s policy is receiving from some who pride themselves on their religious faith.  I believe that whatever our spirituality, we need to do our best to follow Jesus’s teaching to be kind to one another, to welcome the stranger, and to recognize love as the law that matters above all others.  Many of Trump’s religious followers claim to be pro-life, but how is it pro-life—being loving and supportive toward everyone, especially children—to rip families apart?

The situation here is not one of saving children from untenable parental behavior, such as physical abuse and starvation.  Most if not all of the children held at the border are from families trying to rescue their children from violence and poverty—trying to make a better life for them, just as was true for the ancestors of all of us Americans who were not Native American.

Supporters of the Trump border policy air a variety of claims to justify their behavior.  Most of these claims are false or are incomplete truths.  But none of the excuses matter.  No “facts,” no “history,” and no “scripture” can justify what is happening: the cruelty to children and to their parents, the real and enduring harm that is being done to children through the separations, the shocking parallels to the worst of our and the world’s history, and the life-threatening wounds being inflicted on the Constitution and our country’s finest values.

Please: let us care about one another—all of us, about everyone.  Please, members of Congress, serve the entire country, and not merely your future as politicians.  All of us: please care about people and help people—all people, not only those who look like us and lead the kind of life we lead.  If you are pro-life, please be pro-life by working for the needs of all people from the cradle to the grave, not just for their needs before they are born.  Please, please, can’t we treasure, respect, and provide for our children—everybody’s children—and one another, around the globe?

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