“She accuses me of stealing her stuff?” I asked in disbelief. I had just helped a homeless woman, her baby, and her mother move from one side of the country (not the USA) to the other. My friends had donated money to help her buy tickets and so she would have extra for her journey. She and her family stayed for three days in my house, where I fed them and did their laundry. I spent hours filling my car with her belongings, which required a separate trip to the train station to drop off a load, and still, a few hours before her train departed she was trying to cram more into my van and it simply wouldn’t fit. Now, safely secure in her new location, she was on the phone with my friend accusing me of stealing the items she had to leave behind.
As I walked the streets of a crowded city one hot and muggy day, I handed out hygiene items to people sitting on the sidewalks and in doorways. Several I had talked to the week before. Some I sought out so I could hand-deliver items they had requested. I caught sight of one young girl who had developed a case of ringworm. As I approached her and her mother, I held out the cream I’d brought specifically to help. The mother pretended not to understand. I gestured to the markings on her daughter’s skin, but her mother turned her back to me. She didn’t want my help. She needed her situation to look serious so she would get help from a bigger organization, like the United Nations.
Helping people is complicated. The more you dive into the world of injustice and suffering, the more likely you are to be a little rough, a little less idealistic, but fearless nonetheless.
When I see people bringing up issues about families being separated at the border, I can’t help thinking this will all lead to some progressive or conservative agenda. Politicians are running around trying to appease voters, but they will make little process on the more important issue. And when they’ve done what we asked and reunited families, do you think they’ll keep listening as we add more to our request list? (Oh, great. What do they want now?? You just can’t please these people…)
But we can’t seem to talk about immigration without offending each other or getting upset. If WE can’t, politicians certainly won’t do any better. Yeah, we need to work on that. I was nervous about writing this post because of all the people that are going to be upset with whatever I say that they don’t agree with.
But honestly, do you know what I’m really afraid of? That progressives will feel the need to regulate and control things in order to take care of every person that suffers, weighing down an entire economy with the problems of the world.
Do you know what I’m really afraid of? That conservatives will continue to close us off, building real and imagined walls all around, further isolating us and shrinking our economy.
Do you know what I’m really afraid of? The exploitation of the plight of others for some agenda and at the end of the day, we have ignored a variety of better solutions.
Yes, we need to do something. We need to help the parents and children who are being wrongfully separated. I applaud those who are bringing attention to this current issue. AND… we need to find a way to look for lasting solutions — together.
Emily, yes, though it’s imperative to fix the current humanitarian crisis, we all should be looking to how to bring underlying problems and broader solutions into focus. Have you seen The Solutions Journalism’s publication? Here’s one that relates to your post! https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox/164220d94b94e779
Oh, and I’d like to repost your post to an MWEG conversation if that’s OK with you.
Certainly, feel free to share. I look forward to reading the other article you mentioned. We need as many good ideas as we can get!