Elections are a week away. I grew up in a house where voting was important and it has continued to be important to me as an adult. However, it is important to be educated about the issues. The problem is what issues? By the end of October, I am always narrowing down what are my main issues that I care about. For these midterm elections, there are two issues determining the way I am voting: education and immigration issues. My heart is dedicated to urban youth and these two issues intersect in many of their lives daily.
All too often I hear people belittle or judge people who live in poverty and/or are Latino immigrants (whether documented or undocumented). I admit I am dumbfounded when this happens. There is an all too common criminalization of both parties in popular discussion. “People live in poverty because they are too lazy.” “People cross the border because they are gang members and/or selling drugs.” “People are playing the system.” “People are taking advantage of us/me.” I interact with populations that fall into both the categories of living in poverty and immigrants on a daily basis. All of these statements are categorically untrue for the vast majority of people in the U.S. who fall into these categories. That is not to say there aren’t individuals for whom these statements are true, but these statements could equally be said of people in other categories. How many wealthy people do we hear about/know of who are lazy and don’t work, simply living off the wealth of their parents/grandparents? How many white collar Americans sell/use drugs that support the influx of illegal substances into the U.S.? How many wealthy Americans take advantage of the system to increase their wealth, power, and influence? So, why do we continue to characterize all people of poverty or all immigrants based on statements that apply to the few?
For me this goes beyond these issues, God calls us to care for the poor, weak, and downtrodden. He doesn’t say create a system, develop a process, and then care for the least of these in a way that makes sense and is sustainable. He says to give our last penny to Him. For me, that means giving everything to those He cares about and are often neglected by general society. I am not saying the government needs to be giving out money without any care to everyone who needs it. I’m saying we need to make sure we are taking care of the least of these WHILE we find a system that works, not after. For example, I think Jesus would have a problem with us letting kids sit in immigration detention centers like prisoners while we figure out a system (check out a friend’s blog for some context: http://myweekinartesia2014.blogspot.com/2014/10/whats-in-name.html). I think He would have a problem with us sending people back to the violence, war, and gangs they are trying to escape.
“I will come to judge you. I will be quick to testify against … those who oppress widows and orphans. I will also testify against those who deprive foreigners of their rights. None of them fear me,’ says the Lord of Armies.” – Malachi 3:5b
I think He would ask that we show love and compassion. For me, faith is sometimes illogical. I can see where this idea of helping people without knowing where it’s going is illogical. However, I have never stopped my beliefs or actions because someone else may think they are illogical. I act with the conviction that it is right. If it is right, does anything else matter? To me, it doesn’t. So, I will continue to give more time than I have and more money than I can afford in faith that God will make it all work because I am honoring His commands.
‘“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”’ – Matthew 25:40