Lady Liberty @pixabay.com
My mom immigrated to the United States from Scotland in the mid-1950s. When I was a kid, along with forcing me to memorize the capitals of the fifty states (now that was a fun Saturday afternoon), she also made me memorize the portion of Emma Lazarus’ poem that’s imprinted 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-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
That poem meant a lot to my mom. She saw it and memorized it as she entered this country. She believed it.
A land of promise.
A place where people could make it.
A country with a generous spirit.
My mother was also a staunch conservative. She believed in rules and laws and thought people should follow them. She definitely would have been a supporter of the Wall.
But I think (I hope) my mom would have been appalled by what has been happening at the southern border. Our actions there call into question who we are as a people and who we are as a people of faith. It begs the question: who has our higher allegiance? What is happening at our border - separating children from their parents - is simply immoral and indefensible.
One of my other jobs is to write grants for a child abuse assessment agency. For those grants, I research the impact of trauma on children. The trauma we (we!) are inflicting on the nearly 2,000 children will come back to haunt us even if these kids are removed from our country.
The Cleveland Clinic says that, “Traumatic events in children’s lives can have the same effect as head trauma.” The report goes on, “this could lead to long-term consequences such as the development of psychiatric disorders.” Time magazine followed a Harvard study and reported “early abuse may contribute to virtually all types of mental illness.” And the longitudinal Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study found that children who suffer multiple traumas are at far higher risk – as adults – for risky behaviors, chronic health conditions, low-life potential, and early death.
Many people have already written about the tragedy that we’ve seen unfolding. So why am I writing about it too? Because, frankly, along with sending in money to people helping at the border, it’s about the only thing I can do. As a person of faith, I am called not to sit idly by wringing my hands. I highly recommend Vu Le’s post with lots of great ideas of next steps. Write. Give money. Call. This is not about being left or right, evangelical or mainline. It’s about human decency for children.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.” John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, had three simple rules, “Do no harm. Do good. Stay in love with God.” It’s time for us to live up to - and stand up for - the Statue of Liberty’s promise, John Wesley’s edict, and even more importantly, Jesus’ directive.
PS – At this writing, word has it that the President is rescinding the order to separate families. Praise God! Let’s pray that the discussion about how we are treating our brothers and sisters – both young and old – from across the border continues. Our voices matter.