what next???

Trump and his administration are kidnapping and incarcerating children of refugees seeking asylum in America. I’m sorry. Are my words politically incorrect?

What else would you call forcefully taking a child from a parent, taking them to an unknown location, and giving no assurance that they will be reunified in the future?

What else would you call corralling children into pens, removing their freedom and denying them contact with the outside world?

In 2014, Boko Haram abducted 276 school-girls in Nigeria. The world was shocked but not surprised. After all, Boko Haram is a violent, terrorist group. Still, we were appalled. We imagined it happening to our own daughters. We imagined the horror of living with the image of our child being brutally snatched.  The horror of not knowing where they were. Not knowing what was happening to them. Not knowing if we would ever see them again.

Today, in America, over 2,000 children have been abducted from their asylum-seeking parents, and transferred to “holding facilities” around the country. We are now finding out that no process was in place to register the children and parents in order to facilitate an easy reunification. How does a baby or toddler tell you their parent’s name or even where they came from? Even if they are reunited, what long-term mental and physical damage and trauma will be suffered by these children and their parents?

From where I sit, approximately 200 km north of the 49th parallel, the daily news from the USA is unfolding like a dystopian novel or movie. Only, it’s not fiction. This is not the stuff for big screens and bowls of popcorn. This is not the stuff for book club discussions over a glass of wine.

This is REAL.

This is HAPPENING.

NOW.

IN AMERICA.

Trump claimed he would make America Great Again. He has either failed miserably, or his version of greatness is unspeakably cruel, inhumane and evil. What will he do next? And, there WILL be a next! There will be another horror, another crisis that will need to be addressed. Resisted. Fought.

There will be another horror, another crisis challenging us not to take our attention away from these 2,000 children, or the victims of Parkland, Florida, or the other mass shootings, or Flint, Puerto Rico, Russian investigations, love-fests with dictators…

Yes, there will be a next.

And another.

And another…

Until Trump is removed from office.

I am not the greatest!

john the baptist
Christ and John the Baptist, 9th C mosaic from Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

In this week’s gospel readings we meet John the Baptist, known far and wide as a great prophet. Yet, John rejected the accolades of greatness while pointing to the one who was greater than he; one whose sandals he was unworthy to untie. (John 1)

What John did was something so basic; acknowledge the greatness in another. Acknowledge that others are greater than you. Acknowledge that you are not the greatest! This is not only basic human wisdom, but a basic truth of life.

We use the term “greatest” to describe someone who is truly at the top of their field. Yet, greatness is as fleeting as the present moment. World champions and records are replaced with new champions and new records. Past heroes are overshadowed by new stars. Also, being talented or great at what one does does not guarantee greatness in all aspects of life.

We begin 2018 still reeling from 2017. We fear the damage, already experienced and potentially to come, of a person who has been handed enormous power and responsibility while believing that they, and they alone, are the greatest.

Trump’s delusional rants about his greatness expose him as the fool he is. His claims are easily debunked and become fodder for political satire. We laugh at his audacity, but his overblown ego is dangerous.

Do you remember learning that pride is the greatest sin? Pride really does lead to numerous other evils. When “I am the greatest”, then…

  • All others are lesser than me. Their lives have little or no value.
  • The role of others is to serve me and my interests.
  • I am accountable to no one.
  • I do not need to seek the wisdom of others, for I know all.
  • Flexibility or change of thought is a sign of weakness.
  • All who challenge my greatness are my enemies.
  • I am the sole possessor of truth. All others are liars.

The old adage states that pride comes before the fall. Mary sings the praises of a just and loving God in her Magnificat. She sings of a God who cares for and rewards the poor and humble. My prayer for 2018 is that we will be blessed with the necessary wisdom, energy and hope to make her words come true.

He has scattered the proud in their conceit. 

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the humble.

He has filled the hungry with good things and the rich he has sent away empty.

(Luke 1:51-53)