Warning: I’m on My Soap Box

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

– S

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2 thoughts on “Warning: I’m on My Soap Box

  1. Your heart and thoughts are to be commended, but as a country we cannot continue to support thousands of illegal aliens. It is just not financially feasible. We have American citizens who need medical, financial, educational and housing help. There is only so much socioeconomic assistance available. The children sit in detention centers because we have no place to put them. Some children arrive with no parents, who will assume responsibility for them? Who will pay for their care, education until they are 18′ Should we put them into our over crowded, under funded foster care system? It is terribly sad, but let’s say we allow all illegals to stay now. What about the thousands who will follow.

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    • I have a very unpopular opinion because it is not an easy one. I agree the way it works now will not sustain itself. However, if you legalize more people, more people pay taxes; thus, they will begin to pay for their own education, medical needs, and housing. Most of those here illegally do not get government help (because without proper documentation, you cannot receive government help). So, we actually are not supporting them financially. I think you have identified the problem very well. Who will assume responsibility for them? Where is the compassion? Where are the churches? Where are the people willing to help those who need it most? The groups that Jesus talks about helping the most are children, orphans, and widows. When children arrive here by themselves, they are orphans. Those in the foster system in many ways are acting as (either literal or figurative) orphans. Where are we? (I count myself in that group.) The system is overloaded because we have not stepped up to live up to what Jesus has asked us to do, over and over again. Those places that provide support are underfunded. So, where are we giving our money? Mine is a call for social action, perhaps even more than political action. The government cannot and should not do it alone. So, when will we step up and care for the least of these?

      We’ve had similar problems in the past where we’ve limited people’s entrance to the U.S. for various, and sometimes logical reasons. All of these are now looked back on negatively as minimally selfish, and often times prejudiced. For one example, during WWII, we turned away a ship of European Jews escaping the Nazis because how would we support them? Who would take care of them and claim responsibility? Now, that is largely viewed with shame. When we deport many of the women and children who come here they will return to more abuse, rape, forced gang membership, and potentially death. I don’t believe we are cleansed of guilt simply because we don’t know how we can support them.

      So, this is a call to action by all. We need to stop making excuses and waiting for a plan. We need to push the government to create a plan and stop playing politics. Individually and collectively as a church, we need to act in love for our brothers and sisters in Christ. We need to speak up for those who don’t have a voice. We need to put our money and actions to work. God is bigger than any of these issues and questions. If my life has taught me anything is that God works when nothing makes sense. The illogical and improbable is likely. So, I put my faith and prayers in Him and continue to work, fight, and give for those who are neglected.

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