Updated to add information about a webinar on July 2nd by the Episcopal Public Policy Network and Episcopal Migration Ministries that will discuss border policy and ministry.
Sarah and I drove to Fayetteville yesterday to see Les Miserables at the Walton Arts Center. Those of you who know how many times I have seen this musical may ask “again?” I have seen it three times in different venues and Sarah has actually seen it four. But it is her favorite show and this was her gift from her birthday March.
Les Mis is a beautiful but often difficult story. A story of morality versus legality, a story of class warfare, a story of rebellion, a story of redemption, and underneath it all, a story of love. As with any good story, there are underlying themes which reach far past the book and subsequent musical’s time and place – in this case the June Rebellion in 1832 France – to parallel ever present issues and problems in the 21st century.
I will not attempt to summarize the contents of a 1400 page book which has been condensed into a two and a half hour stage show in a few paragraphs, but a lyric in one of the songs struck me yesterday. As the leader attempts to rally his fellow students to rise up against the monarchy for the good of the common people, he sings that “it is time for us all to decide who we are.” The students who are leading the rebellion are not oppressed themselves. They are members of the bourgeois and have all the comforts and conveniences as such.
Similarly we who are hearing about the atrocities of the treatment of children in detainment facilities at the border are not directly affected. We read the stories and see the images from our comfortable homes in our safe surroundings and might feel saddened or angry but we have the ability to simply shake our heads and scroll on, or “share” clips and opinions with righteous indignation before we go about our daily lives.
I, like many others, had rather pushed to the back of my mind the stories of the abhorrent living conditions and the treatment of those detained. Those stories were brought to the forefront again this week due to a combination of stories detailing the horrific condition of the facilities in Clint, Texas by a group of lawyers who were were monitoring the facility to ascertain government compliance with The Flores Settlement and the viral clip of the argument of attorneys from the Department of Justice, in front of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that basic hygiene and comfort items were not mandated under that same agreement.
The politics of immigration and border control are far too nuanced to delve into in a simple blog post and I know that my audience who may read this is of a similar thinking. I will not even attempt to change minds or argue with those who claim that this is not our problem and that these children are somehow less than due to the decisions made by their parents or others who are attempting entry into the United States. The problem is real and the problem is now.
What then, are we to do? How can we help in a tangible way? The quickest way to affect change and provide assistance is to donate to an organization that is working to help those affected. Beyond a financial donation, educate yourself on policies and the lawmakers who control those policies, and make your voice heard when you vote. Those of you who are religious or spiritual, pray. Pray not just for the children and families who are suffering, but also for those advocating for those in need, and those who are in positions of power to make decisions that affect those in need.
Regardless of your politics, regardless of your feelings on immigration, these are real children in real conditions, in the “care” of our country’s government. It IS time for us all to decide who we are. Because friends….this isn’t it.
Link below is for the webinar hosted by Episcopal Public Policy Network (EPPN) and Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM) with guest speaker Bishop Michael Hunn of the Diocese of the Rio Grande to discuss border ministry and advocacy. We will cover the latest policy changes related to the border and will hear a first hand account from Bishop Hunn about how The Episcopal Church is responding to humanitarian needs. We will also offer time for dialogue and questions, in addition to offering ways to get involved
Jul 2, 2019 03:30 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)