COMMENTARY: Border crisis is about ‘basic human dignity’

There is a humanitarian crisis brewing on the border. A crisis where migrants and asylum seekers are looking for new opportunity and for hope, but they have found themselves stopped and their families forcibly separated.

Here is a startling statistic: in just a six-week period, over 2,000 children were forcefully separated from their parents and were often housed in chain link rooms — basically cages. This type of treatment of our fellow human beings is not happening in a far off land torn by famine or war. It is happening at our own southern border. And, treating human beings as you might treat animals is inhumane and that is the definition of what it means to be inhumane.

The Rt. Rev. Kevin S. Brown

It is happening right here and it is the creation of our own policies in this nation. I, like so many of you, have been shocked and appalled at the images that I have seen and the audio that I have heard done in the name of our government and of policy.

The argument that I hear offered is that it is legal. That this is the best and most effective way to curb illegal immigration. There is no one that I have met, who cares about immigration, that thinks the current system is perfect or is even good. It is well understood that it needs to be fixed, and that is a healthy argument and a healthy disagreement. What we should all agree on, all of us, is what it means to treat one another with the basic dignities of humankind.

The first question we must ask about something is not whether or not it is legal. We must ask whether or not it is good. As followers of Jesus Christ we must ask, “Is this good? Is it right? Is it of the loving God?” It wasn’t too far in our nation’s history when it was legal to separate children from their parents on a slave auction block because all were considered legal property.

It wasn’t that long ago in the United States when it was legal to put Japanese Americans in internment camps during World War II for the protection of this nation. Both of these things were considered legal and neither was right.

When you hear language of zero tolerance, I encourage you to be very wary because people of grace, people who believe in a God of forgiveness, and people who believe in a God of second chances do not talk about zero tolerance. Zero tolerance is a language of legalism and is not the language of grace.

When Jesus and his disciples were plucking grain to eat because they were hungry on the Sabbath, it was the language of zero-tolerance, from the Pharisees, who got angry with them. When Jesus went further and healed a man on the Sabbath, it was the language of zero tolerance, from the Pharisees, that increased their anger so much that they began to conspire against him.

We may disagree on how to repair immigration. We must not disagree on what it means to offer basic human dignity to our fellow human beings. Call your elected officials and let your voice be heard. Whether you are a Democrat or Republican, stand up. Find a protest, as both sides are planning to offer various ways of making their voices heard.

Use this opportunity to speak up as an American and as a Christian to express that this is not the way we behave. This humanitarian crisis is one of our own creation and it is one that we can end.

As always, pray and listen. Listen closely for the Holy Spirit speaking in your life and share the good news. Remind the world and the people around you that Jesus Christ brought a message of hope, of liberation, and of peace. We are lights of Christ and in us we can share good news to a world eager to hear it.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Rt. Rev. Kevin S. Brown was elected as the 11th bishop of Delaware on Saturday, July 15, 2017.

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