Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A YouTube Advent Calendar: December 7

But we appeal to you, brothers and sisters, to respect those who labor among you, and have charge of you in the Lord and admonish you; esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, beloved, to admonish the idlers, encourage the faint hearted, help the weak, be patient with all of them. See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all.
-      1 Thessalonians 5

One of my favorite cartoons shows a group of European Pilgrims arriving at Plymouth Rock only to discover that the Native Americans are constructing a giant wall to keep them out. The explanation? “They say we won’t learn their language or assimilate into their culture.”

In September, the Episcopal House of Bishops met in Arizona for their annual meeting. During their time there, the bishops took a trip to the Mexican border. Bishop Mark Beckwith of Newark wrote this reflection.

I learned a lot about these issues myself on a 2009 pilgrimage to Skagit Valley, Washington, where migrant workers live right in our backyard in third-world living conditions. These conditions are allowed to continue because those who live there are afraid to speak out for fear of being deported. They want to feed their families. They want to give their children a chance for a better life. Many people in our country illegally were brought here as children, unable to determine their own immigration status. Many people have also been lured here by false promises from corporations that offered them work in exchange for a green card--then reneged and had them deported before they could be paid.

My friend Jackie Grove submitted a song idea for this Advent calendar, and I think it’s most appropriate for reminding us of the aliens who work among us, whom both our Old and New Testaments urge us to respect and embrace. Here are Queen and David Bowie, together in 1982 with “Under Pressure.” “Splits a family in two … puts people on streets … Love dares you to care for the people on the edge of the night, and love dares you to change our way of caring about ourselves … This is ourselves, under pressure.”

It is time to extend social justice to at least some of those who, for one reason or another, are in our country illegally. It is not a simple, black-and-white matter of lawbreaking. Read here about the DREAM Act, which could come up for a vote in the Senate and the House soon. This is a very timely way you can defend from injustice those who cannot defend themselves.

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