A different take on the immigration issue.

shirt

(Image credit – Lupito’s Photography)

A friend posted this image on social media recently, and while some of his friends understood the message, some decided to take it another direction.

Ed S. said “It wasn’t stolen they fought among themselves until a third player beat everyone…has happened before…pick up a book.”

My friend replied “A third party that steals is still stealing.”

Grant A. replied “Who can claim domain first? Different tribes utterly destroyed each other from the beginning of time, well into early American history. Should Mexicans give Mexico back to the Mayans, Aztecs, Toatecs and Omatecs? They are after all in all essence Spanish by decent for the most part. This is a question deeper than we will ever know. Who was here first originally and has the original claim?”   and added “correct me if I am wrong, but didn’t early settlers/government call westward expansion imminent domain? I haven’t studied history concerning this since college.”

To which my friend replied “The thing about history is that it is written by the victors”

And here is my reply –

“I’ve heard this line of reasoning before. Is it a script? Because it doesn’t justify how we took their land and forced them onto reservations. Maybe deep down the fear of immigrants is rooted in karma – that they will do to whites what our predecessors did to the people who were living here. Maybe it is time to break the habit of history repeating itself. Maybe there is something in the message of Jesus feeding the masses, that if we give thanks to God for what we have, and share it with those in need, there will be more than enough. Maybe I’m an idealist, but so was Jesus. And he is worth following.”

 

 

Advertisements

On the recent immigrant crisis and the Christ-like response

There are a lot of very unsettling things about the immigrant crisis in Europe. It isn’t just the sheer numbers all at once that is the problem for many of the governments. For many of the governments, it is the fact that the vast majority of the immigrants are Muslim. They are concerned because of previous acts of violence that have been perpetrated by other Muslims. They are concerned, and playing it safe.

If you want to break into someone’s house, the easiest way to do it is not to break in. Instead of trying to break down the door and threatening someone with a gun, try simply knocking on the door. Say you’re a traveling salesman. Or better than that-look injured. They’ll open their door and maybe even take you into their home without a fight.

Here’s a terrible thought, what if the immigrant crisis that is going on in Europe is exactly this going on? What if these aren’t refugees from a war but they are invaders? What if this is an invasion using no weapons and relying on our compassion to destroy us?

Without a fight, without a lot of lives lost, and for very little money an immense amount of people can invade a land and take up residence in it. It’s genius.

Consider the 9/11 bombers. They didn’t fly over in their own planes. They came over quietly, legally, and learned how to fly a plane here. They then hijacked our planes and flew them into the trade towers. This is using our technology against us. This is using our compassion against us. It required very little outlay of their own resources.

However, Jesus says “Turn the other cheek”.
Jesus says “Pray for your enemies”.
Jesus hung out with people who everyone else thought were sinners.
We are reminded over and over again to be kind to the stranger because we were once strangers.
Jesus says “He who would save his life must lose it”.
Jesus tells us that we can’t be harmed by anything – not snakes, not poison, if we are acting in His behalf.

If Europe, a majority Christian area, attempts to keep out Muslims out of fear that they are being invaded by Muslims, then they are going directly against the commands of Jesus. Even if Europe is taking over, even if these refugees turn out to not be refugees at all but are invaders, we are commanded to be kind to them.

For Europe to close its borders and close its heart is not Christ-like at all. They would not be preserving Christianity but making a mockery of it. Who knows, perhaps the Muslims might notice our compassion and not see us as chumps but as Christians, as worthy of joining. Perhaps instead of taking over us we will overcome them. Perhaps they will notice our love and through us see the love of Jesus.

Refugee crisis

There’s this huge refugee crisis going on in Europe. People from Syria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan (among other countries) are escaping war and crushing poverty any way they can – often by foot or by overcrowded boat. Some are landing in Greece, up to 30 boats a day, having walked through Turkey. The countries they are coming to aren’t prepared and are reacting by putting up borders or posting guards. If there are refugee camps, they are sad states, with tents and no running water and one toilet for every 100 people.

The refugees are complaining, saying that they thought things would be better in Europe. They are saying that dogs live better than this. They are saying it is inhumane. They are complaining to any country that will listen.

Yet what can be done? The people have no money and no jobs. They aren’t legally immigrating. They have no passports or visas. Then they are expecting to be fed and housed for free, indefinitely. Countries such as Greece already have austerity measures for their own citizens – they don’t have extra for these people they didn’t expect.

Let’s think of it this way – If a hundred people show up at your doorstep and insist on coming in your house, but don’t have any money to buy their own food or any extra clothes, do you take them in? How long do they get to stay? If your house is big and you have a lot of extra money, this won’t hurt you much. But what if you are just making it as is? You don’t suddenly have more money because you have more people staying at your house. There will be less to go around. You didn’t invite these people, yet they are ungrateful that they are getting gruel to eat and have to share beds or sleep on the floor. They are complaining to the mayor and the governor.

Jesus says that we are to welcome the stranger. Jesus says that we are to feed the hungry, house the homeless, and clothe the naked. Jesus tells us that he is not of the world, and that we, as his followers will have otherworldly abilities through him. We are to do these things not out of our excess, but out of God’s excess.

Yet this all sounds like a fairy tale.

Jesus made food appear out of thin air. He fed 5000 people at one occasion, and 4000 people at another, with just a few loaves of bread and some fish. He wasn’t prepared – he didn’t even provide the fish or the bread. He used what was there and it became enough. We are supposed to follow his example, but it seems something has gotten lost in the translation. Over these 2000 years, we’ve not learned the trick of how to do this. We don’t know how to make food stretch and expand. We can’t heal by a touch or a word like he could either.

But maybe that is the problem. Maybe we can if we stop saying we can’t. Maybe we can if we stop getting upset that the church leaders didn’t teach us anything useful and kept it to themselves, and then forgot it because they kept the secret so well. They were so concerned about the secret getting out that they hid it even from themselves. Maybe there isn’t a secret. Maybe it is all about trusting.

Meanwhile, people are showing up. Last report I read said that 340,000 refugees had escaped their countries just this year. This is similar to the great exodus that happened in WW2. And Europe is finally coming to understand what America has been dealing with (or not dealing with) for years.

Immigrant / Refugee

These words are on the Statue of Liberty –
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

But they don’t mean anything anymore. They sound good, but we as Americans don’t really mean them. We like to think we do, but our actions and policies say otherwise.

Remember when “immigrant” wasn’t a dirty word? Now, with the large group of Mexican children at America’s border, the word has shifted from “immigrant” to “refugee”.

That is what they are. That is what they have always been. They are looking for a better life. They can’t make it there, so they are trying to make it here.

This has always been a nation of immigrants.

The Puritans, seeking religious freedom.

The Irish, escaping famine.

The Chinese, in search of jobs where they can earn a living wage.

Layer upon layer, they come and add to the flavor of this country. This country is made up of mutts.

But Americans are scared. They don’t want “them” to take away their jobs or use up their resources. Public education and healthcare isn’t free – they are supported with tax dollars. If you are illegally here, you aren’t paying taxes. You are using resources that you haven’t paid for.

And then we gripe about having to change our signs and paperwork to be in English and in Spanish. That costs money too, money we don’t have.

We may say that America is the richest country, but we are in debt up to our ears. We don’t have the resources to take care of ourselves, much less everybody else. We don’t have room, or time, or much of anything else left over.

But what we do have is more than what they have.

Mexicans are fleeing drug cartels and police on the take. They are fleeing crushing poverty and illiteracy. They are fleeing lives where the only thing to look forward to is death.

For years they were referred to as “illegal immigrants” – but now with this huge group of Mexican children at the border, the term has shifted to “refugee” to garner sympathy.

So what do we do? Take them in? Adopt them out? Put them in foster care? Who is going to tend these children? Where is the money going to come from?

Should we make every Mexican in this country “legal” – drop all immigration limits and expect everybody to work and pay taxes and learn the language? Make a rule that if you want to come here, you have to pull your weight just like everybody else?

We all have to be on the same page.

We aren’t united. We are rather divided. And we are falling. We have a chance here, a choice. We have a chance to be “A Christian nation” like we like to think we are, and welcome in the stranger and treat our neighbor with the same kindness we wanted.

But how? With what money? We had to shut down the federal government for weeks last year due to no money.

We say we want to do the right thing, but when push comes to shove, we’d rather do what hurts less.