Christ With The Meek
I was deeply moved by this plea from Caitlin Flanagan to fellow Christians — particularly Evangelicals — to speak up for the suffering migrant children at the border. She begins by talking about how she became a Christian because her left-wing atheist parents sent her to Catholic school as a child. Excerpts:
But then: Blessed are the meek.
The children are meek. The ones told to comb out one another’s lice and go to sleep hungry on cold floors under bright lights; the ones who have no one—no one at all, save one another—to comfort them. So I was on sound territory there. But the Beatitudes come at you sideways sometimes, and that’s when you’re really in trouble. It occurred to me this morning that maybe as a Christian I’m also supposed to be meek. To be humble.
I never should have agreed to go to that school.
I humbly reach out to the only faction of Americans I know of who have the ear of the administration and who care about children: my brothers and sisters in Christ who attend evangelical churches. It seems clear that we are in the midst of a profound humanitarian crisis and that children are being forced to suffer in terrible ways. Maybe it was never supposed to be this way; maybe the system just got overwhelmed. But this is a disaster. Children are programmed to think that any separation from a parent or a caregiver is a life-or-death situation. I keep imagining one of these children having a dream that he’s home, with his mother and brothers and sisters, but then waking up to see he’s still in a terrible place. If evangelical Christians stood up for these children, things could change in the camps very quickly.
Ever since the most recent round of reports on conditions in these camps came out, I’ve been waking up at night, thinking about the children and wondering what was going on at that moment. I know that while I lie in my warm bed, in my own home and with all my relatives accounted for, children are lying on those cold floors, desperate for their mother, and crying. At those moments, all I can do is think of the nuns at the School of the Madeleine, and how they believed that nothing—nothing at all—was beyond the reach of prayer. And so I lie there and do what millions of other Americans do when they think about these children and come up against the many brick walls keeping us from alleviating their plight: I pray for them.
We know exactly where Christ is, because he told us. He’s with the sick and the jailed and the hungry. He’s in those camps with those suffering children. And we need to be there, too.
She’s right about that. Whatever you think about our immigration policy, there can be no doubt at all that these children must not be made to suffer for the actions of their parents. Can’t we agree on that? I believe their parents are primarily to blame for putting them into this terrible situation, but that doesn’t give us the right to make the kids suffer. They need help.
De-politicize these children. I am fairly certain that most, maybe all, of these kids, and their parents, need to be sent back home. I could be wrong. But until that is worked out, the United States must stop at nothing to care for these little ones, to alleviate their discomfort and trauma. They did not choose this. If we compel them to suffer, the moral guilt will be on our heads, and stain our souls.
This is not a hard call, actually. Not for Christians. What to do overall about the border crisis — that’s a hard call, and in fact a series of hard calls. Moral grandstanding is repulsive.
But: what to do about caring for these frightened and filthy children? Caitlin Flanagan is right: Christ is in those camps, with those little ones. As it is said: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.” (Hebrews 3:15)