Children of Central America and Mexico, many sent by parents afraid of the death-dealing violence in their homelands, arrive at the borders of America seeking refuge, provoking new rounds of debate, and frequently ad hominem diatribe, in our national legislative citadel and between that and our executive branch about immigration reform. A Malaysian commercial flight, with more than 300 aboard, is downed by a surface to air missile, according to intelligence and news reports, fired by pro-Russian rebels, over contested territory in east Ukraine, leading to accusations and recriminations of international scale of possible Russian complicity. Renewed and intensified Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza pours fresh upon the ground the blood of soldiers and fighters and, always, that of innocent citizenry, including children, whilst factions quarrel over the details of a potential cease-fire.
These are but three of the highlights or rather low notes of a current litany of worldly woe; verses of a recital of our all too demonstrable, historically repeatable human propensity to do harm.
I yearn for resolution to our immigration impasse, one that most closely matches the sentiment of the oft-recited words, engraved on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, of the sonnet, The New Colossus, of Emma Lazarus, herself a descendent of Sephardic Jews who were late 18th century immigrants to this land: Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Yet, as tempers continue to flare on Capitol Hill, this is not likely.
I long for worldwide peace, a new age of international comity, with a common regard for borders and, even more, a collective respect for peoples. Yet, as national and intercontinental geopolitical machinations run their courses, this is not likely.
I wish Malaysian Airlines flight 17 never had been shot down and that all who boarded in Amsterdam arrived on schedule and safely at their chosen destinations. This, as with any action in time and space, once done, is impossible to undo.
I pray for an honorable, verifiable peace, at least restraint and, at most, reconciliation in that land called “holy”. Yet, even with a halt to the fighting, given the freshness of the combatants’ reciprocal rage, the latest layer of a centuries-old shared fury, this is not likely.
I am a person of compassion. I embrace (recognize and accept), indeed, I embody (inhabit) my own pain. In this, I am able and willing not only to stand with, but to be in the place of others, vicariously identifying (feeling in my body, aching in my bones) with their suffering. I also feel powerless, unable to fulfill my yearning, my longing, my wishing, and my praying.
Ordinarily, despite my theology of expectation, given my psychology, the way I am wired, embedded in too many grave life’s disappointments, I might fall beyond the bounds of depression into despair – a state of being, one of the meaninglessness of all things, that I well know. Still, I have hope, the root of which I perceive in a perhaps odd, even paradoxical place: the shared outrage of countless folk.
People throughout the global community, an unbounded throng, from every socio-economic sphere, from the worldly powerful to the marginal cry out, saying, “No” to the suffering of children in their native lands and the agony of their treks to borders of promise, “No” to warring across national frontiers, “No” to so-called collateral casualties of innocent civilians, “No” to occupation and subjugation of peoples. As heartbreakingly relentless is our human partiality to do harm one to another, so, too, soul-stirringly resilient is our human proclivity to say “No”.
As I observe this to be true, though all of what I yearn and long and pray I think to be unlikely and, yea, that for which I wish, impossible, I hear the “yes” of hope.