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Tag: compassion

we still need heart!

we still need heart!

Donald Trump promised, “We’re going to show great heart,” and it is time to keep that promise.  The fate of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) hangs on the balance as ten states have challenged its legitimacy in court and it is not clear whether or not the Trump administration will do anything to defend it.

“Children took a big risk by registering with the government to be covered under DACA. Now, this trust in the American government may lead to their deportation if the Trump administration doesn’t act to save the program.” (Vivek Wadhwa, Washington Post)

What is gained — for the United States, for individual states, for business, for communities — if DACA is allowed to lapse? I can think of nothing that could be gained. We would no safer. We would be no richer. We would be no truer to our democratic heritage.

But we have much to lose! We could lose the dreams and talents and contributions and goodwill of these hundreds of thousands of young men and women who have been “virtual” Americans all their lives. And we would lose something of the “soul” of our nation: our compassion for vulnerable people, our welcome of homeless people, our belief in justice for all, our vision of making “one out of many.”



“We’re issuing a new executive action next week that will comprehensively protect our country.”
(Donald Trump at a February 16 news conference)

I was glad, so glad that the judicial system stayed the first executive order on immigration and refugees, so glad that our system is still capable of exercising checks and balances, so glad that such an ill-conceived and ill-intended and, frankly, cruel blanket ban was seen for was it is, or rather for what it is not — not us, not who we are at our best, not who, it is my hope, most of us want to be.

But this administration is determined to get its way, which means that advocates for refugees and advocates for a just America and advocates of compassion must remain vigilant and vocal! We must protest, not stand by quietly while people’s lives are disrupted and upended. We must continue to stand not against, but stand for — stand for compassion, stand for the protection of  people at risk, stand for welcome and acceptance and affirmation of people not like us. Or better, stand for defining “us” to include people who are not just like “me!”

It is difficult to keep on speaking up, difficult to keep on protesting, difficult to sustain energy and will and engagement, especially when protest seems futile, when it seems not to make a difference. I do believe voices of justice and compassion can make a difference, but I was reminded that protest is not merely about effecting change, but also and especially about integrity and about faithfulness, faithfulness to the core values that make us who we are. I was reminded by this quote from Wendell Berry headlining the current edition of the The Weekly Sift:

Much protest is naive; it expects quick, visible improvement and despairs and gives up when such improvement does not come. Protesters who hold out longer have perhaps understood that success is not the proper goal. If protest depended on success, there would be little protest of any durability or significance. History simply affords too little evidence that anyone’s individual protest is of any use. Protest that endures, I think, is moved by a hope far more modest than that of public success: namely, the hope of preserving qualities in one’s own heart and spirit that would be destroyed by acquiescence.

holding on to hope and compassion

holding on to hope and compassion

A New Year’s reflection from Rachel Held Evans: 2016 and the Risk of Birth

An excerpt …

For me, the dissonance of this strange year is compounded by the fact that motherhood turned my bleeding heart into a hemorrhage. It’s as though I’ve become porous, my skin absorbing the pain of others, particularly other mamas and babies. (Speaking of which, why did all the good shows this year involve children in peril? I’m looking at you, “Stranger Things”!) Every night, as I nurse my boy in that cozy armchair in his nursery, I think of the Syrian mama nursing her baby in a raft adrift in the Mediterranean Sea. I think of the shell-shocked boy from Aleppo. I think of how every Latino kid taunted by classmates, every soldier sent to war, every autistic kid who will lose his therapy when ACA is repealed, every black man shot by police is somebody else’s baby boy, somebody else’s most important person in the world. I still, almost every day, think of Sandy Hook.

“Compassion is the sometimes fatal capacity for feeling what it is like to live inside somebody else’s skin,” writes Frederick Buechner. “It’s the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too.”

Motherhood invited me into other people’s skin in a way I’ve never experienced before. So my joy is big and real and consuming, but also incomplete. I am overwhelmed by the conviction that every mother should be able to feed her baby like this, in safety and contentedness, and I am haunted by the reality that this is still far from the case.

In 2016, I became more aware than ever of the darkness around us, and more invested than ever in lighting the path.

the president we want … in a word

the president we want … in a word

We hosted a pre-caucus house party this evening at our home during which I asked our guests to express what it is they are looking for in a presidential candidate in one word. Their answers make quite a list!

  • integrity
  • compassion
  • inspiration
  • honesty
  • justice
  • humility
  • diplomacy
  • reconciler
  • character
  • change
  • moral

I do hope and pray that our next president will be marked by attributes like these!

the healing power of forgiveness

the healing power of forgiveness

Marie Roberts is the widow of the man who entered the Amish school in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania, thirteen days ago, taking ten young girls hostage and eventually killing five before taking his own life. On Friday, she released an open letter to the Amish community through her pastor. The text of her letter follows …

To our Amish friends, neighbors, and local community:

Our family wants each of you to know that we are overwhelmed by the forgiveness, grace, and mercy that you’ve extended to us. Your love for our family has helped to provide the healing we so desperately need. The prayers, flowers, cards, and gifts you’ve given have touched our hearts in a way no words can describe. Your compassion has reached beyond our family, beyond our community, and is changing our world, and for this we sincerely thank you.

Please know that our hearts have been broken by all that has happened. We are filled with sorrow for all of our Amish neighbors whom we have loved and continue to love. We know that there are many hard days ahead for all the families who lost loved ones, and so we will continue to put our hope and trust in God of all comfort, as we all seek to rebuild our lives.

a test of national character

a test of national character

Our initial response to the victims of hurricane Katrina was a test of our national character, a test we largely failed. Since then, government agencies and especially non-governmental agencies and groups and single individuals have distinguished themselves by acts of genuine compassion and timely help to dislocated families. But there is much, much yet to do.

Our long term commitment to the rebuilding of the ravaged Gulf coast and to the restoration of livable communities in that same region will also test our national character. Katrina exposed the nightmares within the American dream. Katrina revealed the huge disparities that exist among us with regard to wealth and opportunity and safety and access to health care. What we saw we could not deny … but we are capable of forgetting what we saw.

In a Washington Post column released today E. J. Dionne writes:

It has long been said that Americans have short attention spans, but this is ridiculous: Our bold, urgent, far-reaching, post-Katrina war on poverty lasted maybe a month.

Credit for our ability to reach rapid closure on the poverty issue goes first to a group of congressional conservatives who seized the post-Katrina initiative before advocates of poverty reduction could get their plans off the ground.

As soon as President Bush announced his first spending package for reconstructing New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, the Republican Study Committee and other conservatives switched the subject from poverty reduction to how Katrina reconstruction plans might increase the deficit that their own tax-cutting policies helped create.

Unwilling to freeze any of the tax cuts, these conservatives proposed cutting other spending to offset Katrina costs. The headlines focused on the seemingly easy calls on pork-barrel spending. But some of their biggest cuts were in health care programs, including Medicaid, and other spending for the poor …

I was naive enough to hope that after Katrina the left and the right might have useful things to say to each other about how to help the poorest among us. I guess we’ve moved on. You can lay a lot of the blame for this indifference on conservatives. But it will be a default on the part of liberals if the poor disappear again from public view without a fight.

(Read the entire column)

I worry that the focus will be on rebuilding cities instead of on rebuilding lives, that we will make this an opportunity to fashion a new New Orleans, a new Gulf coast, and forget about the problems and the people of the old one.

We cannot forget what we saw. We cannot just “move on” and fail to deal with the social and moral and political liabilities that so magnified Katrina’s capacity to cause human suffering. We must not fail this test of our national character.