As a young girl I routinely attended church with my mother.  I was often frightened by the minister’s sermons because he portrayed God as a punishing and severe man.  As I grew into my early teens it occurred to me that his description of God was a mirror image of himself.  I was intrigued; from that day forward I made a point of paying careful attention to how individuals characterize God. What I have found is that, more often than not, their descriptions of God and his viewpoints often mirrored their own.  What was even more evident was that those who pushed their beliefs the hardest not only believed that God was created in their image, but that everyone should be molded in their likeness as well.

No where was this more glaring and evident than in Mary Larson’s letter to editor regarding the Franciscan Sisters participation in Humane Borders. Her letter seethes with contempt for the illegal immigrants. She assumes that God not only condones her hate but that he shares it. Likewise, she assumes that illegal immigrants are dying in the desert because God wants them to die…just like she does.

Mary Larson’s letter said that Jesus Christ is not an illegal immigrant… but let’s do the math, Jesus Christ wasn’t exactly born on American soil, and he doesn’t have a passport or a green card. Items that he may never be eligible for given his well documented status as a convicted criminal of Middle Eastern descent, who has been seen with prostitutes and has first hand experience with the death penalty.  

Or could Mary Larson be suggesting that Christ wouldn’t be subject to the ethnic borders of common men, if so, why not?  Maybe ….because borders are an institution of man that don’t really exist. Larson wrote, if God intended the illegal’s to have water he’d flood the desert. Yet the same argument could be made about borders; If God intended earth to have borders he would have drawn brightly colored lines that cordoned off countries like Mexico.

Larson went on to write, “When they get here they want rights.” Here she seems to suggest that the presence of illegal immigrants would somehow be more palatable if they would refrain from claiming entitlement to basic human rights.  But, as American’s do we not believe that basic human rights reflect the unalienable Rights of all men, Rights not granted by any one government but those bestowed upon man by God?  

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Declaration of Independence

While our country invests vast resources into border security, these solutions all focus on single individuals and groups of people. Are these not symptoms of a greater problem rather than the problem itself?  Does the true source of the problem not lay within their government, hence the solution? We lay tremendous responsibility at the feet of the world’s hungry and oppressed. While our attention is focused on these individuals and how their needs may infringe upon our comforts, we have forgotten entirely the purpose and responsibility of all governments. Thomas Jefferson put it best when he wrote:

The purpose of government is to enable the people of a nation to live in safety and happiness. Government exists for the interests of the governed, not for the governors.”

In his commencement address at the American University John F. Kennedy laid out his ideologies on foreign and domestic policy, while this only serves to represent one mans view, I can’t but help but find his overall strategy entirely relevant not only to today’s dilemma’s but also in this instance.  

But wherever we are, we must all, in our daily lives, live up to the age-old faith that peace and freedom walk together. In too many of our cities today, the peace is not secure because freedom is incomplete.” (John F. Kennedy, June 10, 1963, American University speech)

“And is not peace, in the last analysis, basically a matter of human rights — the right to live out our lives without fear of devastation – the right to breathe air as nature provided it — the right of future generations to a healthy existence?” (John F. Kennedy, June 10, 1963, American University speech)

Has it not always been more or less true to say that throughout history man’s migration has been born out of need, while in contrast corporate and capitolistic interests migrate out of greed?

Mary Larson goes on to tell the Sisters, “you should be teaching our little ones to have faith, hope and love”. It is truly unfortunate that Mary Larson cannot see that this has already been done.

Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the children of God, (Matthew 5.9)

Kindred Spirit, Brooke Trout