Morning meditation on the government shutdown.
Rev. Mindi Welton-Mitchell
January 9, 2019
This morning, as I make my son’s lunch and prepare to send him off to school before I go to my office, I think about the families worried about their food stamps running out due to the shutdown. How will they make their kids lunch? And even if they qualify for school lunches, how will they make their kids breakfast or dinner? How will they eat on the weekends?
As I zip up my child’s coat and lock the door to our apartment, I think of those who can’t make rent or mortgage payments this month due to being furloughed. I think of all those who have to call their landlords and hope their landlords will be lenient, understanding that they are not getting a paycheck this month, but they still have a job. I think of those who can’t afford daycare right now and have to call in sick because they have no choice. I think of those who are wondering if they can make their car payment, if they can live in their car should they lose their housing.
As we turn the corner toward school, I think of all the children still separated from their parents. The two families grieving the loss of their children in custody. The tear gassing of families. All the fear raised against a migrant caravan that never came to be. All the energy, anger, and fear directed at people who are desperate enough to flee violence on foot toward a hope in what they believe is the greatest country in the world. When we arrive on the playground, my son is greeted by a child who looks different from him—because many of his classmates are children of refugees and immigrants.
All the energy, anger, and fear directed at people who are desperate enough to flee violence on foot toward a hope in what they believe is the greatest country in the world.
I think of how much of our energy and focus we have wasted on fear. How many more jobs would be created if we helped people—sent more case workers to process asylum claims, more social workers to help those escaping violence and trauma that we cannot fathom? How much kindness and compassion would be demonstrated that would show the world we can be a truly great country? I can’t imagine any government official applauding violence toward a child. I can’t imagine any elected person not feeling pain in their heart for what some of these families have gone through. Yet we allow families to continue to experience such unimaginable trauma, and separate children from their families. We don’t treat those who are in holding for PTSD or other injury or health concerns. We see them as a threat that must be contained, rather than people who need help.
Instead, we have allowed a small voice to insist that we need a wall, despite experts showing that it won’t work. And millions—mostly people on this side of the border—will continue to suffer for it.
This morning, as I get ready to go to my office, I pray for all those who are suffering from this government shutdown: for the asylum seekers at the border, to my neighbors and friends who are furloughed and do not know when their next paycheck will come, and for my friends and family who are losing access to food stamps and programs necessary for their family to survive.
I also pray for my elected officials, that they might be moved—if not by the children at the border, by the children of their constituents who will struggle because of this shutdown. I pray they will remember how Jesus said we must all become like a child to enter the kingdom of God. If that doesn’t work, I pray they will remember that today’s children will be the next generation of voters, very soon.
The Rev. Mindi Welton-Mitchell is pastor of Queen Anne Baptist Church, Seattle, Wash., and ministry associate of social media for the Evergreen Association of American Baptist Churches USA.
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