Unto the Least of These…

 

Our church provided a screening of the movie “9500 Liberty” after services today.  The movie stirred up many deep feelings lying dormant within me.  I found myself bouncing back and forth with emotion between tears of sadness and fits of rage.  9500 Liberty documents the struggle a Northern Virginia community has trying to introduce legislation making it mandatory that law enforcement stop and check the credentials of all people who may be suspected of being undocumented aliens in the community.  Very few will argue the country has a real problem with immigration, and reforms need to be addressed, but ideas like these attempted in Virginia are nothing short of cruel.

The proud constitutionalists answered this concern by loudly thumping their oversized chests demanding these Hispanic families were the root cause of all that troubled this once fine community. (Does that theme reflect a certain European country and its solution?) Leaders trumped up various problems these innocent and vulnerable folks supposedly created, not limited to the reason 9/11 actually happened.  (A collective head scratch took place after that remark)  These elected leaders used every fear tactic imaginable to force chaos upon an unsuspecting group of otherwise normal people.  When individuals react to fear and are driven by raw emotion, count reason and facts as the greatest losers in the discussion and this case was no different.  If leaders actually want to force a people to do something awful, something unimaginable, something unconscionable, all they need to do is create panic in the streets and let the collective tension release its ugly head and spew out on society.  Do we not learn anything from history?

After the muck was scraped away and facts were finally allowed to see the light of day, the community came together and acknowledged the equality which we all share and the horror of such legislation was eventually defeated.  Thank God.

A little known fact about this same effort that lives currently on steroids in the hot desert of Arizona is the reason this all started, at least in Arizona.  MONEY!  The for-profit prison system needed to increase revenues and commissioned an organization to start using the most vulnerable in society as a scapegoat to stir up fear and create a cash cow windfall for the prison system of Arizona.  God Bless American and God Bless capitalism.

As I left the church building I saw children of various ages and nationalities playing together laughing and celebrating the innocence of childhood.  The Hispanic kids smiled like the other kids, ran and skipped the same and probably dream every bit as much about growing up as the Caucasian kids.  How is it when we look at people who are so much like us we see so much that is different?  God doesn’t.

I drove away from church today energized and motivated to work for a project that demands my action and involvement.  I can shout out all the political rhetoric why these undocumented folks should be treated less than others and be part of the loud, angry, uninformed, and easily led to anxiety crowd.  I could easily do that as many others do.  But my conscience won’t allow such a perversion of the good news taught by the master.  This issue is a matter of justice, this is about mercy, this is about helping those most in need who depend on others to step in and help where they are unable.

I’m able.  I’m  willing.

…he has shown me, oh man, what is good and what the Lord requires of me; but to love justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God.  (Micah)

If we are going to use the OT as a hammer, like many do in this discussion, this will be the verse which I choose to ascribe.

Advertisements

Arise…

…”How our hearts burned with indignation against the atrocious Spaniards!…But when the smoke was over, the dead buried, and the cost of war came back to the people in an increase in the price of commodities and rent – that is, when we sobered up from our patriotic spree – it suddenly dawned on us that the cause of the Spanish-American war was THE PRICE OF SUGAR…that the lives, blood, and money of the American people were used to protect the interests of the American capitalists”.

These words were uttered by Emma Goldman reflecting her feelings about the true reason behind the Spanish-American war.  I find her words so biting and descriptive, almost a narrative for our current time.  Isn’t it ironic how the more things change, the more they stay the same?

This time the war is about oil not sugar.

Who will be this generation’s Emma Goldman and speak to the motives of this horrible injustice perpetrated on a desperate people?

Let the alarm be raised.

Consider as I close these immortal words of Percy Shelley from the “Mask of Anarchy…

“Rise like lions after slumber

In unvanquishable number!

Shake your chains to earth, like dew

Which in sleep had fallen on you –

Ye are many, they are few!”

We the good and decent people of this land need to wrestle back control of our country from Wall Street while there is still a country worth having.  This is the land of the free…home to all, not just the wealthy elite.

I Pledge Allegiance

 

HI, I am an UN-APOLOGETIC AMERICAN!! I pledge allegiance to the flag of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, and to the REPUBLIC for which it stands, one nation Under GOD, indivisible, with LIBERTY and JUSTICE for all!! I grew up reciting this every morning in school. We no longer do that for…fear… of OFFENDING SOMEONE!! Let’s see how many …AMERICANS will re-post this & not care about offending someone.

I saw this on my friends Facebook page and became sad.  Sad that somehow, saying the Pledge of Allegiance could be thought such a determinant on the good American high water level.  How this person woke up in the morning and decided they needed to show their patriotism is greater than others is confusing and well, odd.

I watched with amazement as people draped themselves in the red, white, and blue after 9/11.  It seemed to spark a rallying cry for the neo-patriots everywhere.  Suddenly we couldn’t spit without hitting something emblazoned with old glory.  Somehow this wave of emotionalism swept past me, maybe it was my aversion to the color red, and I watched this unfold from the sideline.

Churches now became the epicenter for the nationalistic patriotism movement.  I would watch in wonder as patriotic services were held to celebrate our country.  The faithful rose as one to stand, salute and offer their allegiance to this colorful flag sitting prominently before the crowd.  Here in the same building where their allegiance was previously demanded of another kingdom, now forgetting that, reciting in lockstep allegiance to another kingdom.  One doesn’t have to stretch too far with memory for another time when churches pledged allegiance to their country, didn’t turn out to well then either.

A quote comes to mind, I can’t remember the author, probably with a little searching I could find it out but now feel uncompelled to do so.

Followers of Jesus have always set themselves up against the state.  When you claim allegiance to God’s kingdom – one that looks nothing like any nation, country, or empire that has ever existed – you’re rejecting your country whether you realize it or not.

For those who need this assurance that you are one of the connected dots and are included in this country, by all means place your hand over your heart and pledge away.  As a matter of fact, just keep it their so nobody misunderstands your loyalty.

Me, I’ll pass.  I won’t pledge my life, loyalty, obligation, love, and desire to anything other than my maker. If this upsets you, I’m sorry.  For me it seems silly to pledge ones life to a line drawn in the dirt, a border.  How am I to overlook issues I take such objection to?  Am I willing to make such a commitment to a man-made line that can change at a whim?

Reminds me of the story of the Lithuanian farmer whose home was now on Russian soil.  When approached and asked about which he preferred to be called, a Russian or a Lithuanian, he boldly responded…Please by all means a Russian, I can’t take any more of those cold Lithuanian winters.

Just how important are borders anyway?  People of faith are citizens of a different kingdom anyway; borders never determine who we are.  In reality I have much in common with others who live outside our borders, oftentimes more so than the locals.

So to all my flag waving patriot friends, accept me as I am.  I too am an American, an American who is grateful for the opportunity to speak dissent to an empire set on conquering a world for its own devices.  An empire who seeks not peace by its actions but war, this I do not pledge my heart to.  This I reject.  This is my right and I am every bit as patriotic in my voice as you are in wrapping yourself in your flag.  Forgive me if I don’t blindly follow destruction down the long dark hallway of obligation.  “For me patriotism is the same as humanity.  I am patriotic because I am human and humane” as stated by Brother Gandhi.

I’ll pledge my heart to peace but never to war.

I didn’t repost the comment.