Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Border Scar

How much deeper can the scar that marks the border become? We have funded a wall between the US and her neighbors to the south. We sponsor drones, military personnel, and a sense of enforced "otherness" that borders on hatred. People used to travel to Mexico for pleasure, and are now deterred by wait times. People used to travel to the US and are now deterred by gunfire and the desert walk. We have forgotten our collective humanity.

Love and ties of family cannot be broken. There is no wall, no trench, no helicopter full of machine guns that will prevent a mother from providing for her children and or a father from being present with them. No construction will deter this drive to maintain family unity. Further militarization only guarantees more deaths.

The border has become a scar. We are the amputated part of the Americas. We have cut ourselves off. We mistreat those who provide our food. Someday we will regret this, as abuse harms both the soul of the abuser and the body of the abused. Someday, when we are hungry, will our neighbors be people of welcome? Will they teach us to grow food? Will they share their clean crops and seeds when we have poisoned ours with GMOs? Will they send us some bees and butterflies? Empires do not last forever. I love my country and I hope the US stays strong by remembering the weak. Yet cutting ourselves off undermines our participation in the global economy and slashes the social fabric of foreign relations.

I am praying for a change of heart the size of an entire political party. I envision a southern border grown of citrus trees. I dream of an orchard that spans the width of several states, trees to feed the hungry, shade to welcome the displaced, and fruits of the earth watered by God when the rain falls down.

Collaborative Solidarity for Social Justice and Human Rights

Social media is easy armchair activism--yet it yields power in these small acknowledgements of human connection and collective action for justice. I was proud that a couple key family and friends came out as allies with their profile pictures. Solidarity is a feeling that breeds courage, and we need more of that now than ever. 

The red and pink equals sign logo pictured here was borrowed from a DREAMer activist and the image depicts a monarch butterfly, a symbol of liberty in migration, as marriage equality is a life-or-death issue for some of the 11 million US residents who are undocumented, and face persecution at home for their identities and relationships. There is no equality in living in constant fear that a knock at the front door will lead to a partner being arrested and taken to immigration detention and deportation without a trial. There is no equality in the lack of equal access to medical care, protection of children's relationships in the family, and shared property rights. There is no equality in lack of access to employment, driving privileges, and even the ability to open a joint bank account. Yet despite these constant threats of family separation, civil marriage offers some limited protections that must be demanded for all and extended to any who wish. 

The movement for equal rights must not neglect the disenfranchised and must reflect the beauty of real diversity. People have every right to be who they are and to live and to love in freedom as God created is to love and thrive in liberty and in community.

This week on Twitter, the United Farm Workers Union founded by César Chávez and Dolores Huerta is hosting a hashtag photo-sharing collaboration during lunch breaks for workers in the fields (#FieldFotos). In the US, we outsource our food production and much of our domestic produce is harvested by newcomers to our country who are being denied papers and who are kept in constant separation from their families. This is simple:  We eat. We vote. We are in this together.

Collaboration does not water down the struggle for acceptance. Casting a wide net for allies means allowing people to connect in their own way to the issues of human rights and social justice. One human rights issue leads to another as our logic follows civic engagement. Community-based networking leads to friendships with flesh and blood people engaged in human struggles. The stories of real lives that face barriers in pursuing happiness can lead to change. Stories slow us down and make us listen. They remind us of our own struggles. It is at the level of the story that we can connect and transform.