‘Face It’

Terry Walton


I Was Thinking…

When we put a face on an issue it is amazing how our perspective on the issue can shift.  I’m certain there are many opinions on most things I write.  This will be no different.  Immigration is an issue that is full of political maneuvering and posturing.  It will continue for this election cycle and beyond.  But putting a face on the issue helps me.

This past week there was a photo which I first viewed in the Atlanta-Journal Constitution of a father, Martinez Ramirez and his 23-month-old daughter, Valeria, embracing each other when their bodies were discovered drowned in the Rio Grande river.  The father nearly always working had sold his motorcycle and borrowed money to move his family from El Salvador to the United States.  They wanted safety and opportunity.  Together they arrived at neither.  The fast-moving waters of the border river overcame them and together they embraced in their death.

When I looked upon the photo my heart sank, and my soul wept.  I was on vacation with our family which included our grandchildren, ranging in age from 10 months to 10 years.  I couldn’t help but think of that little girl and then think of our little ones.  I’ve often said, “Children cry in every language and mothers/fathers love in every language.”  The memory of that photo will live with me for quite some time.  It hurts me deeply.

For Christmas this past year Sharon and I gave each other and our adult children ‘Ancestry’ kits.  I was certain that Sharon was to have some Cherokee blood in her background.  It was in her family lore.  I knew from family stories that I have Irish blood in me.  We discovered that not only do we have common love but we both have common ancestry in Northern Europe.  From that part of the world long ago our relatives migrated and immigrated to this grand country.  They left what they knew to discover something new, full of safety and opportunity.  They took risks and found a new home for their families.  I am grateful that I now share in the benefits of their journey.  I am certain that it was not without trial and tribulation.

Regardless of how we surmise our opinions on immigration, at least for me, it helps to put a ‘face on it’.  When that happens, it causes me to stop and realize that this issue (as is the case with most issues) is more than a political platform.  It is life and death.  And I happen to believe we Americans can do better than we have been doing.  I am thankful to be an American.  But it is important for me to remember that I’m an immigrant too.  I bet you are as well.

The Apostle Paul wrote no truer words than these… ”Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good…extend hospitality to strangers…Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep…do not claim to be wiser than you are.” (Romans 12:9,13,15, 16b NRSV)

Always Thinking…

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