In the midst of figuring out a road forward on DACA and comprehensive immigration reform, President Trump made a statement about countries who had the most need for support/relief in the form of the United States granting immigration status to their citizens. He called them “shithole countries.” A few thoughts:
We can’t let our political paralysis keep us from speaking up and out against hateful racism when we hear it. Oftentimes, in the name of “not getting political,” good intentioned people (who are deeply disturbed by the language coming out of the White House) remain silent. I get it. There are implications to saying stuff that may be interpreted as “political” or as jumping off the party line, but that’s no excuse to passively perpetuate hateful rhetoric and action at the expense of those on the receiving end of it. If we’re honest, that paralysis is a fear rooted in an assumption that our political allegiance is more important than our kingdom allegiance. Let’s choose the latter EVERY time. After all, the king of our kingdom came from Nazareth…a “sh*thole” town that wasn’t supposed to have anything good come from it.
There is always more to the story, and we have to become students of the nuance — not the soundbites. For example, if we did a collective study on the story of these sh*thole countries, we’d need to pay attention to the way U.S. foreign policy and militarism is marbled into their destabilization. It’s easy to point fingers as if we aren’t part of the problem. It’s much harder to become students of conflict and ask necessary questions of our contribution or perpetuation of it. Speaking specifically of Central America, it’s important we remember that U.S. policy/violence in ‘80s led to refugees coming to the U.S. without support…which led to gangs…which led to their deportation back to Central America…which led to civil war…which then led to current crisis. This information isn’t hidden in a vault; we just have to be willing to dig into the discomfort.
I have four little kids who we are giving our lives to invite into the generous, compassionate, faithful, and countercultural way of Jesus. Because the language and actions of our president, my very young kids are being exposed to words and realities at a pace we can’t control. Even if they don’t read the tweets or hear the interviews, it still makes its way to them at school or by overhearing our adult discussion or walking down the street. On one hand, I lament that in any given moment, I can never expose my kids to the words of the president without fear of what they may hear. On the other, this is a dynamic moment in history that can be used an opportunity to form our children into a generation with tools of discernment, actions of justice, and a healthy distrust of the assumed integrity of those in leadership. Rather than isolating our kiddos from our societal brokenness, let’s expose them to it in a way that invites them to be part of its healing. For us, it’ll start by taking our kids down to Mexico to spend some time in a migrant shelter to hang out with the beautiful, brave, and heroic Central American mothers and kids on the move.
In this moment, what are creative ways we can celebrate the humanity, dignity, and image of God in our sisters and brothers from Africa, Haiti, and Central America? Let’s not get even by lowering ourselves to the same game of name calling, but get creative in love by building uncommon friendships and partnership across borders.
On the journey together may we go…