I woke up at around 2 in the morning with my baby’s foot in my rib and sweat on my forehead. It was the dream–not his kick–that woke me up.
I dreamed that I was walking across a concrete floor, wet from a hose, that led to several chain-linked cages against a wall. Frantically in this dream I was trying to find my baby. For some reason, I knew he was in there. And sure enough, I found a small girl holding him as he wailed and in my dream I knew it was him–my baby River. I shook the fence, screamed at the girl to open up the gate so I could take my baby back. She shook her head.
And I woke up.
I know the dream was egged on by a Facebook post that I posted yesterday that instigated quite the online brawl. I was saddened at some points to see some of my friends and some family totally tear at each other rabidly, disrespecting one another and name calling and taking sides politically rather than a side for humankind. I was also interested at times in the dialogue and pleased that at least it invoked conversation. So I backed out of the conversation and went to bed. And that’s when the dream came.
When I awoke I felt at my stomach and felt River move beneath my hand. He’s safe for now–tucked inside me, not yet exposed to the cruelty of the world, not yet able to see images of children only a couple years older who are screaming for their parents. He is the closest to me he’ll ever be, protected from being taken from me, hurt, yelled at, oppressed, caged, or simply shown evil.
When I see the children of immigrants trapped behind steel, eyes watering, clutching foil blankets–I see my babies. And I’m horrified.
I’m not supremely educated on the ins and outs of immigration. I was even told not once–but several times last night–that if I don’t have a solution then I shouldn’t complain or even talk about it.
But that doesn’t sit well with me. I might not have an answer to solving human trafficking–but I can speak out against it and hate it. I might not know all about the foster system or guns in schools or the issue of homelessness on our streets–but I can care about the issues, spread the word, help where I can, donate. Just because I don’t have the solution to all of the world’s problems doesn’t mean I should be silenced.
And when I see children in a cage, whether it started back in 2014 or began just yesterday, I can’t be silent. Because those could be my children. As a member of the human race, they are.
Just yesterday I woke my little step daughter up and was helping her get dressed. As a daughter of a blended family she often has questions about where she’ll be going that day, who will be picking her up, and where she’ll sleep. Mind you, she’s always taken care of, loved, and spoiled (sometimes to a fault)–but it’s still something that’s on her mind. So I make a point of telling her right away how her day will be. It comforts her. Yesterday I was in such a rush that I forgot to say anything to her so she ran up to me in the bathroom and tugged on my over-sized t-shirt and said to me, “Tell me where I’m going today?”
Guiltily, I stooped down and slowed my morning down and kissed her and told her the plan. She was going to daycare. She smiled, gave me a hug, and said, “Ok sounds good!”
Looking back on that memory, as simple as it seems, breaks my heart. Children are not objects–they’re complex human beings who need stability, a plan, the comfort of knowing what they’ll eat, where they’ll sleep, and who will be there for them. When we tear them from their parents, illegal or not, and place them in cold cages–we strip them of those very fundamental rights and induce trauma that will never leave them.
Regardless of where you stand politically or how much you know or don’t know–I hope to Heaven that you agree with me on that simple truth. Our children deserve better than that. Regardless of which president you support or how impassioned you become over border patrol–let’s please agree that as human beings we are commissioned to take care of one another much better than this.
If it doesn’t affect your heart–you need to examine your heart.
If this is allowed now to the children of immigrants–what could be allowed in terms of my children later on? What if I had to flee a country in order to keep my family safe and found myself being ripped from Mia, or from my son? My heart churns in pain to think of it.
I’ve had many people “educate” me on laws, the ins and outs, and rights and wrongs of what we’re doing as a country. I’ve had good friends cite news articles and tell me why these families are separated and why it’s necessary. Some analogies don’t sit well with me and some I can understand. But when push comes to shove, regardless of the “why’s”, I still can’t sleep well at night knowing a child is locked up. For now, mine are safe. For now, I can whisper in their faces or to my stomach that all is well. For now.
And I pray that doesn’t change. But if it did–if suddenly our futures were uncertain–I could only pray for more mercy and more compassion than what my country has shown to these immigrants.
I’m not saying our country is evil. I feel blessed to have the freedoms and the rights and the comforts of this country. I am so thankful for military protection and some righteous leaders and great people who’s intelligence and innovation and sacrifice far surpasses me.
But I am still scared. Scared that history is repeating itself on the very soil I love. Scared that people are forgetting very basic human truths that the child with brown eyes and no shoes in the holding cell is no different than your blue-eyed child in her bed. And roles could easily reverse, just like that.
For now my children are safe. And that’s what keeps me awake. Because there’s a woman out there who can’t say the same.
Democrat. Republican. Libertarian. Independent. Indifferent.
We are so many things.
But at our center we are simply one thing.
How quickly we have forgotten.
Leviticus 19:33-34 New International Version (NIV)
33 “‘When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. 34 The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.”