One of the challenges in today’s seemingly react-first culture is that we sometimes find ourselves reacting to a symptom instead of wrestling with the root. We deal with related branches of an issue, as opposed to dealing with the issue at its core.
Such seemed true again last week in regard to Pres. Trump’s disputed crass comments in regard to the countries of origin of American immigrants. While his reported words created an understandable stir, the reality is that we need to find a way to deal with the deeper issues embedded inside immigration. Those issues are part of why the immigration issue has been so challenging for administrations and legislators of both parties to fix for years.
Note that in what has been none other than a sweet blessing to me, I have long had many Haitian friends. In fact, working alongside so many as my professional career began was incredibly insightful and growth-producing. I felt God gently but firmly stretching me, learning to deeply love those seemingly different than me. I learned more about what we had in common than what we did not.
Haiti is a beautiful country filled with beautiful people with some amazing stories… without a doubt, Vivian, Michelet, Lamar, etc… They shaped and sharpened me in so many ways. Their compassion… their so obvious humility and grace… they spurred me on in my early professional years. I thank God that my relationship with them impacted far more than my profession.
I heard, too, their stories of hardness, the hard life many chose to leave. Now almost eight years exactly after the catastrophic earthquake of 2010, I will never forget my friends’ poignant testimonies in regard to their struggles of everyday life… to make a living, to feed their family, to have a healthy child or a safe home. They came here to build a future. And as a wise man said in response last week, “Yes, life is hard. Though the President put it in a crass way, we can pause to ensure we haven’t become numb to suffering of our brothers and sisters.”
Let us never become numb… to any.
The existent poverty and lack of development in Haiti is accompanied by a complex history — one on which even with my friends’ insight, I have a limited perspective. Unfortunately, however, I know that much of the country’s history has been marked by corruption. That was evident in my friends’ sadness, as Haiti is has been known as one of the significantly more corrupt countries in the world.
So as I look at those who are still struggling, my question as one who loves Jesus back and thus looks to love all people well: what’s the best way to love all people well in the immigration debate?
Not being numb… but not forgetting the concerns both at home and afar…
How do we best love all people well?
Said Kent Annan, a senior fellow at the Humanitarian Disaster Institute, “Our framework for immigration starts and ends with love. In between, there are hard policy questions to debate honestly and rigorously. Yes, it’s wise to consider security issues. And yes, our resources to help can be limited. In some cases, the best way to help refugees is to support them closer to their homes.”
We must be honest about constraints but motivated in our choice by love for our neighbor.”
We have to find a way to do this well, friends.
Let’s wrestle with all the angles, complex as they may be.
Let’s be honest about all the angles — and stop politicizing them, possibly in lieu of future voters.
And in the meantime, let’s stop pointing fingers at one another.
Let’s stop seeing any other as idiotic or unenlightened or something worse than we. And mostly, let’s stop fooling ourselves by thinking we are loving all people well when any of our time is spent casting stones at someone here.
Vivian, Michelet, and Lamar taught me many things. Most of all, they helped teach me how to love other people well.