I’m at the Second Annual Border Ministry Summit of the Episcopal Church, meeting at St. Philip’s in the Hills Church in Tucson, AZ. Last year we hosted the first (and rather exploratory) event in El Paso. We had 60 people there. 200 have registered for this one. People have come from all over the nation. Apparently, this idea scratched an itch, and as we normally do, we make it a “thing.” Second Annual…and Third, and Fourth, until just past its useful life, and then it will go down in the annals of our church as “something we did.”
But it’s something we’re doing now, and it’s important now. Granted, we’re singing to the choir—the people here have come because they have an interest in border issues—but as numbers grow in this initial stage, others will come to the place where they cannot ignore it any longer. Then the story of José Antonio Elena Flores being shot across an international border by a border patrol officer because rocks were being thrown over the wall, and of the officer’s subsequent acquittal, can become important symbols of a broken system into which we’re trying to shine a light. Then the fact that Latino immigrant workers, (as USA Today reported today) many of them undocumented, are becoming the backbone of the economies of increasing numbers of sectors in our society will be openly acknowledged, and we can deal with the contradiction that we secretly believe our economy needs to keep them here AND keep them illegal at the same time. Then the fact that, on a minimum wage salary, so many undocumented workers live here and send half their earnings back to families in Latin America will confront the insane opulence to which Middle Class America has grown accustomed. Then the link between violence in Central America and US foreign policy over the last 100 years can be owned and mourned, spurring us to constructive work to rebuild peace where we helped to destroy it. Border issues are much bigger than an imaginary line between two nations. The implications run to every line we draw in the sand between the we and the them. And I am guilty, too.
But it’s not all bad news: Second Annual…and Third and Fourth and Fifth—or whatever it takes until we see merciful justice rise up like the morning sun.