Posted tagged ‘gnawing belly’

The Answer Came

February 16, 2008

seess.gifMy thoughts keep coming back to this deal with the illegal immigrates. So, the other day I took the time to really pray about the confusion and fears in my heart about the subject. I then sat and thought for a long while, waiting I guess for an answer that I was not sure would come right away.

I thought back to when the first white man came to America. How we had no regard for the Indian’s way of life and how we did not try to change to be like them, just because we were in their country. However, I expect this of the Hispanics.

I thought about how they had not known a life of security or prosperity. How they must think it could all end at any time with them being sent back to their homeland. Could this be why they work all the overtime they can and not because they are greedy? Are they just making hay while the sun shines? What would I do if our roles in life were reversed?

I thought about how dishonest they are to; not pay a fair share of taxes. How they use food stamps, Medicaid and other social programs designed for the poor, when they are making as much as I am and not even having to pay taxes.

They have the same option as me for buying insurance at work, yet they sponge off the government that allows them to live here. They steal another’s identity and give no thought of the problems it will cause.

Why do they behave this way? Could it be they are afraid of the paper trail that could get them deported? Are they afraid that if they pay for the insurance and then they need to use it, the insurance company will refuse and say they are illegal? Would I not be afraid? Have I never taken what was not mine to take? Have I never told a lie to help myself? Do we not have many lazy Americans cheating us by falsely using the same services that the Hispanics abuse?

I thought about how unclean some of them are. They don’t even know to wash their hands after going to the bathroom or to flush used toilet paper down the commode. Could this be because they grew up in a culture where basic health education had not been ingrained in them since birth? Don’t I know Americans who are just as unsanitary?

I thought of how I hate the hot tortilla smell that fills our break room at lunchtime. Most of their foods, I like. But this smell is repulsive to me. It nearly turns my stomach. But, what do they think of my salmon patties and tuna salad? Would I give up the foods I love if I had to live in Mexico? On the other hand, would I not see these foods as a link to the place I missed?

I thought about how haughty and pride filled some of them are. How they expect you to move out of their way in Walmart. How they allow their children to run wild in stores. Am I free of the guilt of pride? Have I never looked down my nose at another? Are they more permissive with their children because the mortality rate of children is higher in their homeland that it is in America?

All these things I thought about. It kept me from my sleep as I pondered on it and walked a mile in their shoes. The fit was not good. It has left me limping today because I have no answers to offer.

Only this do I know: they are no different from me. They too are flesh and blood. They too laugh and cry, love and hate, give and take. They worship the same, the one and only, God that I do. They too have fears, prejudices, dreams, hopes, desires and aspirations. They too will do whatever it takes to provide for their children, be it lying, cheating or stealing

What has this shown me? That I have been more blessed by God for His own good pleasure. Yes, I have known hard and difficult times in my life also. However, I have never been driven from my home by hunger or poverty. I have never had to watch my child grow up uneducated, or sicken and die because there was no doctor or money to pay one. I have never been drawn to an alien country by a hope for obtaining the very necessities of life.

Yes, I am truly blessed, through no efforts on my part. Living in this country is a blessing. Who am I to set limits on who else can enjoy these same things, freely given to me by God? I have no right at all. Everything belongs to God. This is His earth, His land and His children.

Somewhere, between the extremes of arresting and deporting all illegal immigrants and flinging open the borders, is an answer. We may find it in time; we may not. The world is watching us. They watch to see if we are just all talk or if we are the compassionate people we proclaim ourselves to be.

Are these famous words only that, famous words?

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

Or do they still have meaning? Has the prosperity showered on us by a loving God, made us so selfish we cannot share? Is there no more room in this wide country?

If ever there was a poor person, these Hispanics are they. Not only in money are they poor, but also in all other aspects are they also needy. Many have bowed legs from malnutrition in childhood, bad teeth from lack of hygiene and proper dental care. They have no education, few clothes and nowhere to live.

Many come from small villages where there was no running water, which means no flushable toilets, no electricity, no paved roads and no social services. There was little time for school because it took all family members to raise enough food to live on and there was no money to pay a teacher.

Many fall prey to the exorbitant fees charged by their own people when they first arrive. They need clothes and shoes for work. They are in a strange place without an inkling of the laws or language. It is little wonder they often cheat, steal and lie to get by. I do not say it is right, only that I understand why.

I know a man named Mario who told me of when he first came to America. He had run out of money three days before payday. Another man lent him $3.00 for food, until he received his first paycheck. He ran to a grocery store and spent a long time trying to decide what was the most food he could buy with his money.

He finally picked up a large can with a picture of fried chicken on the front of it. He rushed home with his mouth watering in anticipation of the fried chicken. He quickly opened the can, with a pocketknife, only to find he had purchased a can of Crisco.

He told me with tears in his eyes, how his belly gnawed on its self for the next three days as he searched through the break room trash for scraps to eat. He said this made him determined to learn to speak English. Hunger is a good motivator. Today he speaks it very well.

There are thousands of heart breaking stories like this. Stories of hearing news that a loved mother or father was dying and no money to go to them who were so far away. Stories of a fiancée contracting aids because she had to sell herself for food to feed her brothers and sisters. Their hunger could not wait on the first check from America to arrive. The tragedies are endless.

So, where does this leave me? Wondering how I can begrudge them a place in the land of plenty. It is true they have flooded the job market with workers and that this keeps wages down. We cry it is unfair to American workers. But, is it truly fair for us to have so much and them to have so little? Does this not come under the heading of sharing?

How many of us in America really know needs that are not met? I speak here of the basic needs of life: food, water, clean air, shelter and medical care. Not of new cell phones or more designer clothes. Nor do I speak of bigger homes that house fewer people each year. I speak not of a large nest egg for retirement, which we may or may not live to use. I speak of the needs of the present time, right now.

I have felt rage and hate, pity and compassion by turns. I have been incited to anger when listening to the complaining at work. I was filled with disgust as I watched them march last year, demanding their “rights.” But no more. In one night, my heart has changed. The issue is settled in my heart and I believe it is sanctioned by Christ.

My part is to treat all humans with respect and dignity regardless of race, religion, color or nationality. It is, to be a living example of righteousness, by how I live each day. It is, to deny anger, hate and jealousy a place in my heart. It is, to help anyone in need and to share with anyone who has less than I do. It is, not to allow myself to be drawn into disputes of the crowd, but to stand firm on my beliefs and convictions. It is, not to be afraid and to place my whole, complete trust, not in the hands of the government but in the able hands of God.

Well there you have it. The answer came. I know there will be times I forget and fail, but I know too a God who is forgiving. I most assuredly will fall from grace in the eyes of many and be counted no better than a turncoat or traitor, but such is the price of having a conscience and of following The Way laid out by Christ during His life on earth. God sees and He is watching.

I’ve never really been afraid of being different from the norm. In fact, most of my life I have been so. I only get lost when I take my eyes from Him and listen to the world whine and cry about what is fair. However, as my Daddy always said, “The only fair you will find in life comes to town in the fall for two weeks.” How wise he was.