Break From the Church Series: A Short Rant on Puerto Rico

Puerto Rican Beach
by Giselle Marie

This is a picture taken by my fiancee’ during her last trip to Puerto Rico to see her family. I need to reiterate that last part. Her family. She is half PR and half Cuban. This last trip she sent me shots like this, her grandfather and his neighbors shooting poor, her cousins around her age that she has known since childhood. Laughter, food, songs and family.

I had to take a break from the church series for two reasons. The dust up on my write up on the UCC in the comments section since Andy Lang, the executive director of the UCC’s Open and Affirming Coalition, has upset a lot of LGBTQIA people and their allies. The second reason is I am worried about the people my fiancee’ loves and cares about in Puerto Rico. It is hard to focus on matters of church policy when there is something more pressing on the heart.

As I write this, hurricane Maria has already made landfall cutting power and phone lines with imminent and deadly flooding to likely happen on the Río de la Plata river. After this is over, the natural rain forests of PR could be devastated affecting the ecology of PR for decades to come.

Many American Christians are asking for prayers for the people in the path of this monster. Many atheists are asking for thoughts for the people of PR as well. I am finding myself angry about this. Ever since I got involved with Giselle I have learned a lot of things about PR and our relationship with it.

I am sure most people already know that people from PR are American citizens. They do not get full citizenship rights in that they cannot vote for the president nor have voting representation in Congress. Puerto Rico is entitled to a resident commissional who is essentially  a delegate who is not allowed to vote on the floor of the House. This has been the case since 1917.

PR has a measure of self rule that is always subject to the Congress’ plenary powers. Freedom with permission and citizenship without rights and an economy that has been shot since congress made move after move to decimate them. Removing tax incentives for businesses to operate there to generate jobs led to businesses leaving. Add to that moves like our role in the electric bond failure in which congressional oversight and interference by large US financial groups.

Now I move on to racism. Americans are stupid. They often do not know the difference between a Sikh a Muslim and attack Sikhs. Now, they should not be attacking Muslims anyway. Same thing here. My fiancee’ and other Puerto Ricans I have met have been told to go back to Mexico or faced American Trump supporters who do not know that they are American citizens.

So here is the question I have. What will we do after the storm passes? Will we give thoughts and prayers and move on to the next thing to share and click like to or will we actually do something of significance?

Yes, there are going to be relief organizations that we can donate to and maybe even volunteer with after the storm passes. But their infrastructure would have been better able to withstand this storm if we had done the right thing. Their homes would be better suited if people could afford to build quality homes in a healthy economy. Heck, this storm may not have happened if we had environmental protections in place instead of trying to debate if climate change is a real thing.

The cost of ignorance is the suffering of others. This is the point I am often trying to make when discussing my son and his pain. His pain is caused by the innocent and willful ignorance of others.


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