Have you ever found yourself lumped in with a group of others where assumptions were made about you? A week or so ago, I was having a conversation with a man in Tijuana who had recently been deported. I had walked up to a group of men at Casa del Migrante, a shelter for men where my traveling companions and I were staying for a couple of nights and my first question to the group was “Do any of you speak English?” One of the men said “Yes, and I don’t speak Spanish either! “ He was born in Mexico but had gone with his family to the United States as a young child, had spent 50 years in the US but had not become a citizen and was recently deported. He was now in a country with no relationships and he did not speak the language. He asked me where I was from and I told him that I was from North Carolina and he said, “I like country music too!” I replied, “What makes you think I like country music? I don’t!“ My new friends and I got a good laugh because I had made assumptions about them and they had made assumptions about me. Friends, we do this all the time.
Throughout Encuentro along the Mexican border, as we met with immigration experts and visited ministries and organizations on the front lines, it was clear that there are no simple answers to the complexity of immigration issues. Regardless of how one feels about who should be able to enter the United States, we must realize that those who come have varied reasons for doing so, and as we attempt to understand their stories and as we remind ourselves that they are God’s beloved children and are of sacred worth, it can be more difficult for us to put them all in a box.
In response to one of my Facebook posts throughout Encuentro where I was sharing what we were learning, a friend of mine sent me a private message suggesting that all undocumented immigrants are “illegals” who have no place in our country. He also suggested that all immigrants were people who harm or murder others. Seriously?
It reminded me of similar comments made by some of my friends when sharing about a recent pilgrimage to Israel and Palestine. Some of my friends wanted to suggest that all Palestinians are terrorists. I can assure you that is not the case as I was given the gift of meeting and hearing the stories of a number of very peaceful Palestinians in the land where Jesus was born and raised. It is unfair to generalize. We often do the same thing with other races, nations, genders, etc.
For the record, please do not put me in the “Christian” box that tends to enjoy generalizing and oppressing others. Jesus reminds us over and over about how we are to welcome the stranger and to love our neighbors as ourselves. My prayer is that now that I’ve been annoyed by the speck in the eye of others, that God will reveal to me those places where I need to work on getting the log out of my own eye because I’m sure it’s in there pretty deep.
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Claire – Let’s Stop – 06.08.2017
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