Friday, June 28, 2019

Today's Anguish

The spies return from scouting the land of Israel. Ten return with a negative report. They say: “All the people that we saw in it were men of great size and we looked like grasshoppers to ourselves.” (Numbers 13)

Every morning I read the newspapers. Every evening I watch the TV news. During the day I read online reports.

The other day a father and daughter drowned in the Rio Grande while trying to cross the United States-Mexico border. Their names were Oscar Alberto and Valerie Martinez Ramirez. Many others have discovered a similar fate. Some fled worn torn Syria. Others ran from persecution in Sudan. Some escaped violence in Central America. Others left poverty in Venezuela.

They see in America a promise and hope.

Every morning I read the newspapers. Every evening I watch the TV news. During the day I read online reports.

And that is all I seem to do.

I offer up excuses for going about my day as if the plight of refugees and asylum seekers is normal. “But I have to buy a new pair of pants. But I have dinner plans. But I have to work out.” The problems seem enormous. They appear insurmountable. What can I do?

More! At the very least.

A father and daughter drowned at our nation’s border.

Regardless of our disagreements about immigration policy our humanity demands more of us. Our tradition asks us to do better. A father does not risk his daughter’s life out of folly. He traverses a raging river only because desperation propels him. I may not understand the specifics of his desperation, but I cannot imagine any other reason.

I have never faced such a decision. I have never needed to take such risks.

And I look like a grasshopper to myself.

I wish I could muster the strength of Joshua. I wish I could summon the courage of Caleb. They were the spies who did not see the giants. They refused to see the enormity of what stood before them. Their faith was unrivaled.

Perhaps the ten spies were realists. Perhaps the challenges they faced were in fact gigantic.

And Joshua and Caleb were idealists.

I long to hold on to their ideals. I reach for their words:

“Have no fear of them!”

I read. Have no fear. I must do more.

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