"Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
A long way from home, a long way from home"
--African-American spiritual, 1870
I was seven years old, recovering from very serious ear surgery. After a visit to the doctor, as we drove home in my Grandmother's car, the bandages used to staunch the bleeding in my ear came loose and suddenly I began to bleed uncontrollably. As my Mom cradled me in the backseat, my Grandmother sped to the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, where I was wheeled into a treatment room to wait for a doctor. All around me were bright lights and beeping machines. I was covered with blood and so afraid, but the worst was this. Hospital policy dictated that my Mom could not come into the room. Could not hold my hand, or soothe me, or tell me it would be alright. I could even hear her protesting voice just outside the closed door.
Never before, never since, have I ever felt so separate, so separated from my parents, the ones charged in my childhood world to care for me. To never leave my side. To be physically present through the best and the worst. That's what a kid is supposed to be able trust in, maybe more so than any other promise in their little life.
That Mom and Dad won't go, no matter what.
Unless you are an immigrant from the south, showing up at the border, pleading for mercy. Because right now it is the stated policy of the United States government to forcibly take teens and children away from their immigrant parents. To house them in makeshift facilities. To separate them from Mom, from Dad. Under Presidents Obama and Bush, both hard line opponents of illegal immigration, this was not the policy. It could have been, legally, but both chose to not carry out "zero tolerance", the name given to this program by the current administration.
So now cruelty is a tool of our government's immigration policy. The intentional affliction of suffering visited upon children, CHILDREN, is the unmerciful way to supposedly stem the flow of illegal immigrants. According to scores of reports from both the left and the right in the media, some 2,000 children have been separated from their parents in the last six weeks, by the Department of Homeland Security.
But wait--it gets worse. Attempting to justify these actions, the top law enforcement official in the U.S., Attorney General Jeff Sessions, tried to rationalize it by citing scripture, in a speech to law enforcement officials in Indiana. He said it was our Godly duty to enforce the law, I suppose even an unjust law. But he did seem to skip over the most relevant passages for this discussion, the truth that throughout the Bible people of faith are commanded by God to care for the refugees and strangers among us. To treat them as human beings and fellow children of God, with dignity. Makes me wonder if a few pages were missing from Sessions' Bible.
As Isaiah 10 warns, "Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless." That's kind of direct. No wiggle room there. But as so often happens when we humans use the Bible as a fig leaf to hide that which is ultimately immoral, this effort is unmasked for the lie that it is. Or as the preacher William Sloane Coffin once said, "Too many Christians use the Bible as a drunk does a lamppost: for support rather than for illumination."
The condemnation of this new policy has been universal and comes from across the religious spectrum: Southern Baptists, Roman Catholics, Main Street Protestants, Jews and Muslims, even by usually ardent administration acolytes, like the Reverend Franklin Graham. Not one legitimate faith group has come out in support of Uncle Sam.
So imagine this if you dare: life as a motherless child. Imagine surviving a dangerous journey of hundreds, even thousands of miles with your parents, only to be snatched out of their loving arms when you arrive. Imagine such inhumane actions being promoted under the flag of our nation.
We should all be ashamed.