Strangers

      “Imagine that you see the wretched strangers, their babies at their backs, with their poor luggage plodding to the ports and coasts for transportation, and that you sit as kings in your desires, authority quite silenced by your brawl, and you in ruff of your opinions clothed. What had you got? I’ll tell you: you had taught how insolence and strong hand should prevail, how order should be quelled, and by this pattern not one of you should live an agéd man, for other ruffians, as their fancies wrought with selfsame hand, self reasons and self right, would shark on you, and men like ravenous fishes would feed on one another.”
     The quote is from Shakespeare’s revision of an insurrection scene in the play “Sir Thomas More.” London workers are rioting against “aliens,” because they believe Protestant refugees from France’s religious wars are taking their jobs. More is called upon to quell the crowd, and he does so by asking the rioters what they would feel like if they were refugees.
     The topic proved too hot for the censors, and the scene was suppressed.
     On this Fourth of July weekend, this story from the life of a saint brings home to me the reality of what’s happening on the U.S.-Mexico border.
     More than 100,000 undocumented children have been arrested on the border in the past eight months. That’s 12,500 a month – more than 400 a day. Many of them were sent north on their own – children as young as 8, sent by their parents in Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador.
     This humanitarian crisis has been greeted with howls of outrage in our country, particularly in the halls of Congress. Our august congressmen seem to think these children came here to take advantage of us – to get something.
     Of course they did.
     I’ve spent time in those countries. I have friends there. Parents in Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador do not love their children less than we love ours. Can you imagine what would make a mother send her 8-year-old child on a voyage of 2,000 miles, across several countries, alone?
     Hunger. Hopelessness. Fear. And hope, that there might be something better, somewhere – but certainly not in their homelands.
     I do not believe it is our duty to save all the children of Mexico and Central America. But I do believe that if our government’s policies helped create the conditions that caused this exodus of hopelessness, it is our duty to look at the facts.
     This mass migration is not occurring because of anything President Obama has done. It’s happening because the governments of Mexico and Central America are hopelessly corrupt – because the governors and oligarchs steal from their people with both hands, while denying them a crust of bread, and giving them a boot in the mouth if they ask for one.
     Is it our responsibility to change that? Probably not. But it is our responsibility to stop shoveling public money by the bucketful into those corrupt pockets.
     The U.S. government should stop sending billions of dollars to Mexican police forces, who conspire with the Mexican army and the drug cartels to wage war there. That’s why children are fleeing from Mexico.
     We should stop sending any money at all to the drug-riddled, death squad-backed governments of Honduras and Guatemala.
     It’s not the business of the U.S. government – your business and mine – to fix the entire world. But I do believe it is our business to keep from making it worse.
     It is the business of what remains of our independent media to report honestly and soberly about the world – not to feed public passions, to play one side off against another, and to cry, “Wah! Wah! Poor us!”
     I have yet to see an honest, sober report about what is driving thousands of parents to send their children away, perhaps forever, on a long and perilous journey to this land of freedom.
     “For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in.”
     – King James version
     Happy Fourth of July.

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