To the Editor:
As I watch the fear campaign being waged against the “invaders” from central America and try to make sense of why some would choose to poison the heart of America against a few thousand, mostly women and children, trying to escape poverty and crime for a better life, I am only left with stories passed down from my own family.
They were starving in Ireland and caught up in the never ending wars of Europe and came here “with just the shirt on their back” as dad would recall from his grandfather. They trusted this land to take them in and just give them a chance. And it did. With just a little economic opportunity, a little equal justice under the law, a system to educate their children, they became proud Americans and defended this country with immigrant pride in every war.
But the greatest gift my family gave me was more than just my birthright of citizenship. It was the admonition that there were those living around us who were different in race, different in ethnicity, different in faith, who were being denied the same benefits I enjoyed and that my fundamentalist Christian upbringing should never allow me to forget them. Christ called on us to protect the most vulnerable among us and our Judeo/Christian faith calls on us to “undo the heavy burdens and let the oppressed go free.”
And why is it important to remember these commands? Because remembering keeps the heart and soul of America moving in the right direction, toward justice and charity and away from the hardened heart which denies both. Every time I failed these commands, even as a public servant, I became smaller in the estimation of my own self dignity and my guilt overwhelmed me.
The size of the “mob” as they were called in the recent rally here only a few miles from my home is about the same size of a large high school in Chicago. The only threat they pose to a country of 328 million people is to cause us, by listening to the demagoguery, to forget “from whence we came.” Except for the color of their skin, their march seeking a better life is no different from most American families march generations ago.