Three Things that Should Not Be Controversial About the Family Separation Crisis

Three Things that Should Not Be Controversial About the Family Separation Crisis June 29, 2018


I’m known as a bit of a pest in the blogging world, and that’s not an unfair characterization. Today, in particular, I’m going to be positively insufferable. I am going to say three things that ought not to be controversial, but they are, and they make many people angry.

First of all, it is entirely possible to love your country, while still admitting your country has made a grave mistake. You can do that. It’s not a contradiction. You can love the flag, honor the troops, celebrate the Fourth of July, and still oppose injustice committed by the country. In fact, it is a great act of love for your country to point out where she has gone wrong. Admonishment, when prudently  administered, is a work of mercy, and works of mercy are how we love. If you love your country, hold her to a high standard.

Secondly, it is entirely possible to value law and order, while still being kind and merciful. This is not a contradiction either. In no case is it a display of law and order when the most draconian penalties imaginable are handed down gleefully to show how tough we are. Actual justice requires mercy, because actual justice requires that human laws take a backseat to the needs of real humans. We need to constantly examine, critique and amend our nation’s laws so that we can bring about true justice and proper order. This is part of law; it’s part of government; it’s one of the things that make up law and order. Valuing the law for law’s sake is a subversion of the proper order of things. It is totally unjust and leads ultimately to chaos. Cruelty for the law’s sake is even worse.  Laws are for people, and whenever we sacrifice people to laws we commit injustice. Not to mention, cruel and unusual punishment is against the law.

Finally, It is entirely possible to love and defend unborn children, while also loving and defending children who have already been born. You can do both.

I know that many pro-life people realize this and live that realization every day, but there are a sizable number who don’t, and I’m speaking to those who aren’t sure.

Indeed, not only is it possible to do both, it’s required of us as Catholics. We are to love our neighbor as another self, and our neighbor is anyone who needs our help– anyone. Unborn people, disabled people, elderly people, people who have committed terrible crimes, people who are our enemies in a war, people who have brown skin and speak Spanish, anyone and everyone who needs us. In the course of your life, you will likely find that your unique vocation leads you to attend to one specific group of people more than you do others, as Saint Damien ministered to lepers and Saint Elizabeth Seton ministered to girls. But  you are not allowed to disregard one person’s intrinsic dignity in order to build up another.  Throwing one kind of human in front of the bus in order to save another is consequentialism which, when you get down to brass tacks, is a kind of human sacrifice. It is specifically forbidden in Catholic ethics.

If someone tells you you should not care about one group of humans because another group is suffering, you know that that person is a fraud and you must not listen. We cannot ignore the cry of the immigrant because abortion, or any other injustice, still exists. We especially cannot permit or celebrate cruelty to the immigrant, or anyone else, because abortion still exists.  Nor can we because we like law and order, or out of a love of our country which demands no responsibility. If we do, I am certain that at the end of our lives we will come before the Throne of God and find that immigrant was Christ all along, and that we refused to know Him, and we will be lost.

I am asking all of my readers to continue to take this situation seriously and work toward a solution in any way you can. If you can’t get to any of the planned immigration protest marches tomorrow because you’re sick, as I am; or because you have to care for your children; or because you’re in a cloister or working all day or some other just reason, there’s nothing wrong with that. Contribute in some other way. But there is no excuse to blow the crisis at our nation’s Southern border off as unimportant– not because you value law and order. This situation is a textbook case of cruel and unusual punishment which is completely unlawful. Not because you’re a patriot. A true patriot works for justice. And certainly not because you’re pro-life.

If at all possible, please consider taking the day tomorrow to attend a Families Belong Together rally, or help people who are attending. Pack a lunch or make a sign for protesters. Offer to watch their children for them while they go. You can find a demonstration near you in the embedded link.

Please keep writing to congress. 

Please keep donating what resources you can to charities that are trying to help.

Keep these people in your prayers. Offer your daily suffering on their behalf. Consider committing to a day of fasting or a regular holy hour to pray for them and for our country.

We can do all of this, without giving up praying and fighting for other people, and you can do it while loving your country and respecting justice.

We can, and you ought.

From the standpoint of Christianity, I really don’t see how we have a choice.

(image via Pixabay)

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