Thursday, July 24, 2014


In the comment section of an article on the work being done on the border by faith communities and people of good will one guy wrote “Jesus is crossing the border.” Most of the other commenters took his statement as either being a joke or mean spirited.

Well, depending on your theology Jesus is down there on the border. Jesus in solidarity with the poor and down trodden as liberation theology teaches. As you do to the least of these you do it to me.

Then there was the comment that we should take care of our poor, naked, starving US citizens first. Well, very few Americans are actually naked and starving. Although a lot of them are getting their clothes at Goodwill and need food pantries to get through the month if they’re lucky.

Trouble is you can’t function in this country without a car of some kind unless you live in a major metro area and then you’re probably living in a neighborhood that qualifies as a “food desert” with far more fast food joints than markets with fresh meat, poultry and vegetables. If you know how to cook. If you have the tools to prepare the food. If you can afford to stock your pantry with what you need. And in areas where food items attract bugs, a way to store your basics so that you get to use them before the roaches get to it. And if you're working two or three low wage jobs trying to keep the wolves from the door and keep track of your kids, who has time to cook? Or you may know in your gut that the money would be better spent on home cooked food but the kids are hungry now and those Golden Arches are right over there.

The dirty, really dirty, secret is that the problem is structural. That’s true not only for the so called third world but for many areas of the US. Not too long before his death MLK was joining the beginning liberation theologians. Our country couldn't solve the problem of minority poverty without helping all of our citizens out of poverty. And we can't solve the problems of poverty in this country without helping the poor of other countries out of poverty.

Our “problem” with immigration could have been solved forty years ago. If the multinationals and big business wanted it solved. the option of telling their workers "keep your mouths shut or I'll move your jobs to India or China," It suits business to have a labor pool in this country that can’t complain for fear of being turned in to the feds. Next step up is the pool that gets threatened with “keep your mouth shut. I can replace you with…” Next step up and so on.

The brutal truth is that in a world that celebrates automation and so called labor saving (Wendell Berry called them labor replacing) devices, a world trading scheme that pushes exports and sweat shop industrialization over sustainable local communities (that includes big ag in this country) this planet probably has an excess population of at least two billion people. What are they supposed to do? Starve quietly? Not bloody likely.

Although the Paul Ryans of this country are doing their level best to destroy the safety net without putting anything in its place. Like decent jobs and making sure that companies are penalized for shipping profitable companies overseas. And what about the countries that have no safety nets. Especially the ones like Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras where US policy over half a century destroyed any chance their people had of building a decent society.

The vultures have come home to roost and they’re sitting on our southern border.

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