Illegal

If you lived in 1862 in New York State, and a black man and his child and escaped from slavery in the south to your hometown, he would be “an illegal” and the legal thing to do would be return him to his “native” land in the South. If they were separated or treated without humanity, you could, legally, say, “they should have thought about that before they tried to cross the border without correct papers.” But you know what? Brave men and women disregarded what was “illegal,” and did what was right. We honor them now as heroes who worked in the underground railroad.


If you lived in London in 1938, and a Jewish child refugee from Czechoslovakia somehow found their way to your neighborhood, they would be “an illegal.” Smart elected politicians and economists had decided there simply weren’t enough resources in the UK to take all those refugees. They had to “make sure we take care of our own first,” and they had already given out the maximum number of asylum visas. The correct and legal thing to do would have been to report them for deportation. But do you know what? Brave men like Sir Nicholas Winston disregarded what was “illegal,” and did what was RIGHT by secreting them away in foster homes with forged paperwork all around the UK. We honor heroes like him, because later we learned that the people who didn’t manage to escape were systematically rounded up, from the youngest child to the oldest grandmother, and taken to gas chambers. (Btw, the USA wouldn’t take those refugees at that time, either.)


If you rode a bus in 1955 with a woman named Rosa Parks, and you saw her refusing to move to the back, the legal thing would have been to move out of the way so the police could more easily arrest her. She was breaking the law, you know. It was illegal.


If you were in Tienanmen Square in 1989 when the tanks rolled in, a law abiding citizen would have stepped aside and let them massacre their fellowmen unhindered. It was 100% illegal for “tank man” to do such an illegal, heroic act.


If you think you might have signed the declaration of independence if given a chance, you might think twice if you realize how it was actually an act of high treason against your sovereign government. Illegal, Illegal, Illegal.
If you think its a natural right for women to own property or vote, do you believe that only because our current laws reflect this? If we rewound history and plopped you down 200 years ago, would you still believe this? It was illegal in New York State then, you know.


The thing is- ALL SORTS OF THINGS have been illegal or legal at one time or another, but being legal does not make it RIGHT, nor does something (or “someone”) being illegal automatically make them WRONG or evil.


LAWS ARE NOT ALWAYS RIGHT. Laws are only society’s attempt to define what is right, and often society gets it wrong. That’s why laws get updated and changed all the time.


When humans go against laws that are wrong in order to do what is right, history usually ends up calling them courageous. Heroes. We read stories like this and we stand in awe of the amazing things that people did in the face of some very unjust laws, and we hope to inspire ourselves to act in courage like they did.

Some of the most wicked and unjust laws are only changed by brave men and women doing daring, illegal acts. Petitioning and lobbying and protesting and voting are great, but when gross injustice is legally happening, it is incumbent upon a just person to do something other than hope and vote for the the laws to change. We cannot be those who sit by and watch as murders and atrocities are carried out quite legally.


The immigration issue is something that needs addressing. It does. But we can’t do it while painting a picture of people as wicked because they are not in line with current laws. We have to back up and ask whether those laws are actually just or not. That is the conversation we have to have, and there is room for debate.


But we have to stop equating “legal” with “right” and “illegal” with “wrong.”

Love One Another

 

I love Jesus.

I mean, duh. I am a christian, I am saved. And if it is really true- he gave his life for me, well then, duh, of course I love Jesus.

For quite some time now my prayers have been along this line: Lord, I love you and I want to know you more. 

And I have been very happy at his answers. He has taught me so much about who He is, and what He is like, and the more I know, the more I love him! He is so good, and so kind, and so loving to me, I can’t help but love him.

But.

Okay.

Recently I was thinking about Jesus coming to earth and choosing to die for us, and about how  we are all the ones screaming “Crucify Him!” even while he dies for us. I don’t really fully comprehend it, but I wish I did, because I think if I could really grasp it, I would love him even more.

But while I was thinking of that, and my own… lack of gratitude, I also started having this other issue:

I don’t like people.

Though I have so enjoyed the mercy and grace and joy I have found in the Savior, the truth is that I go into my community and find lots of people who are, well, not like Christ. And because of their imperfections, I have found plenty of reasons to not enjoy them.

In fact, I guess I could say I have hated them.

Okay, hate MIGHT be a strong word. But hear me out.

What if hatred is not doing evil. It’s just… withholding love.

Yikes.

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It is a strong line to draw- I mean, it is much easier to place hatred on a scale. Like this:

There are people I’m crazy about,

people I enjoy,

people I tolerate,

people I kinda avoid.

People I realllllly avoid.

People I would wish evil on.

People I would DO evil to. These are the people I hate.

 

That’s a much nicer scale, don’t you think? If that is the scale, well, then, I don’t hate anyone! I wouldn’t do evil to anyone! I can give myself a pat on the back!

But… what if there is no scale. What if it’s just people I love, and am loving towards, and people I don’t love, and don’t “do” love to.

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I heard a speaker recently who said, “If there is anyone in your church building that you would not choose to sit next to, you have a problem.”

This is uncomfortable. I mean, aren’t I allowed to dislike a few people?

Okay, maybe I am not allowed to dislike them. But what if I am kind to them on the outside, but on the inside, I’m rolling my eyes. What if I am nice when I see them but I would prefer not to see them? Is that okay?


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And then I think of Jesus. Jesus loves me. He is so good to me. I just want more and more and more of Jesus. I want to know what he’s like, because the more I know him, the more I find things I like about him!

Here’s me, praying, “Okay, Jesus! It’s you and me! I love you so much, and if I can just be alone with you all the time, that would be perfect. Those other people can really get on my nerves.”

And here is Jesus:

You want to know me, Brianna? Let me tell you about me. I love you, and I died for you. 

And I love them, and I died for them. 


 

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I feel like I had this huge moment where I just suddenly realized this fact that everyone has known forever:

Jesus. loves. people.

JESUS LOVES PEOPLE! GOD LOVES THE WORLD! THE WHOLE WORLD! LIKE- ALL THOSE PEOPLE I DON’T LOVE!
OH NOOOOES

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Okay, I’m calmed down.

But seriously, he turned me around by the shoulders and pointed to everyone else, and I knew: the most important thing for me to learn about Jesus- is that he loves them. 

And if I want to be like him, if I want to know him more- I have to love them, too.

Really love.

Not hate. Not even a little.

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You know in Matthew 24, Jesus is talking about the end times. And lots of times, people will think of the end times in terms of signs in the sky, and wars, and disasters, and the mark of the beast. But do you know one thing we forget easily?

…At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another... Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.

Matthew 24:10,12

Doesn’t that strike a chord a little? As you read this, are you suddenly remembering far too many people, or maybe one particular person, that you really don’t want to have to love?

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But if you are anything like me, you probably love Jesus, too, don’t you? And the more you learn about him, the more you like him, don’t you? And don’t you ever look around your church and think… Man. If only our church was… more like Christ. It sure seems like we are missing something.

If you think this at all, I wonder if the thing you are missing is the same thing I am- many of us are missing- love.

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I’ve been thinking about what it would take to love, to really love, everyone I know. Not only the people I enjoy, the people who love me, or the people who I feel need or deserve love… but everyone.

The people who irritate me or just aren’t my style. The people who have a sense of humor I don’t enjoy, or bodily habits I find slightly gross.

The people who don’t love me- aren’t kind to me or considerate. The people who reject me, who ridicule me, who despise me.

The people who ignore me or frustrate me. The people who forget me and devalue me. The people who disagree with me and contradict me, call me names or adjectives. The people who actively work against me- or against my family or children or the things I believe in.

What would it look like for me to love them? Really, truly love them?

I suspect it would look a lot like Jesus, hanging on a cross, dying for people who were screaming, “Crucify him!”


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Can you  imagine if this week, when you went to church, there wasn’t anyone, not anyone- that you kind hoped you didn’t have to talk to? And can you even fathom a Sunday when we went to church and none of us – NONE of us- withheld love from anyone else?

What would that look like? What would our churches be like if we didn’t tolerate any hatred in ourselves? If we were committed to unreserved, extravagant, unmerited love- the same kind we receive from the Lord?

Maybe it would look a lot like, “They will know you are Christians by your love.”

Maybe it would look like a church full of little Christs.

Maybe, just maybe… the reason why the church is lacking in life is because we are lacking in love.

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I love Jesus. I am so, so thankful for his goodness towards me. And I guess… When I think about how much he loves me, and then I look out towards you, I am more convinced all the time that he wants me to love you, too. He isn’t pleased by me doing evil to you- or withholding good from you. He doesn’t like it if I complain about you or ignore you or just plain don’t prefer to be around you. He wants me to love you, like he loves you. Like he loves me.

I love Jesus, and I love you, too.

 

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Photos by Christopher Campbell, Tyler Nix ,  Nathan Dumlao  Aatik Tasneem Jared Sluyter Neill Kumar Catarina Carvalho Hybrid Samridhhi Sondhi Alexandre Croussette   Janaya Dasiuk on    Unsplash

Freedom

I have very strong political opinions. Every day I see things on Facebook that I really support and every day I see things I really really disagree with. I want to type snarky comments contradicting people’s fallacies or post things that I might caption, “Take a look at THIS!”
But I don’t. Usually. Because the way I see it is that everyone is free to form their own opinions, and my political posting on Facebook will probably not do anything to influence the political state of our country. It will, however, influence the relationships I have in my life.
I do think there is a time to stand up for something. I have no desire to sit idly by while gross injustices happen.
But sometimes you have to acknowledge that you hugely disagree with the people you’re related to, the people you do business with, and the people you wave at when you’re out jogging. You have to acknowledge that, and still decide to be kind and civil to them, and still decide to have relationship with them.
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Today, I want to stand up for something… for freedom. I want to stand for the right to be different. To have people in my country, in my community, in my family, and in my Facebook feed who have opinions and make decisions I completely don’t respect, and yet still respect them as people, and even value them. Because that’s really freedom. Not to be shamed, bullied, silenced, or unfriended for your opinions. Even if they’re strong. Even if they’re wrong.
I want to stand up for the right to talk about my political opinions without being pushed into a political camp or unfriended by people who were at my wedding. I want to stand up for the right to criticize people I will probably vote for, and to agree with a point made by a candidate I would avoid in a dark alley. And I want to stand up for your right to do that, too.
I want to stand up for freedom, and respect, and how wonderful it is that we are all different, and how beautiful it is when we live in harmony with one another.
Not unision. Not all matchy-matchy, everyone pick a side, put on a uniform, and find a furious chant to to yell louder than anyone else.
But constrasting, multi-faceted harmony. That’s really freedom.
That’s my strongest political opinion.

Why we can’t take refugees right now, honey.

Once upon a time, there was a family with 318.9 Million children. The dad owned a small business, and he manufactured… um. T-Shirts.

And at first, when there were only 1 million or so children, everyone pitched in and worked on those T-shirts, and they made enough money that the family survived, and were content.

And then all the T-shirt companies got into a big war, and bombed each other, and there were no T-shirts for awhile. It was sad for the other families, but the first T-shirt family’s business didn’t have much damage, and they made tons of T-shirts, and suddenly got really big. Everyone was buying from them!

They had so much work to do, business was booming, they made so much money! The family prospered, and they were proud.

And it wasn’t too long before those kids, who worked a lot, started realizing that there was some unfair distribution of labor. So they made some rules to keep everything fair. They called them Labor Laws. They worked well.

But too soon they realized that they didn’t have enough T-shirts for their orders. And they didn’t want to go back to working as hard as they used to…

So they started hiring the work done in places like China, Brazil, Taiwan.

Where they didn’t have to pay those kids so much money. And the kids from the T-shirt family took jobs doing non-production things like managing, advertising, and designing cool things for the front of the T-shirts.

Now, here’s the thing. The family business was doing so well, that when more kids came along, those kids expected the same benefits the first kids had.

So they imported more T-shirts from China, Brazil, and Taiwan, and they gave the younger kids positions at the T-shirt business. But these positions were not actually making T-shirts… These positions were doing things like… singing songs, or giving massages, or serving lattes to the kids who were doing those extra-production jobs at the T-shirt factory.

And they kept the business going.

And for years this went on, with all the kids in this T-shirt company living pretty well on the fat profits from the sales of T-shirts,  but then Dad and the accountants started talking about the money they owed to places like China, and to some of their suppliers like Japan, and they started talking about reducing the allowances to some of the bossy kids, who were making obscenely more money than the not-so-bossy kids. Like, grossly obscene.

Meanwhile some of the kids were bitter about how much money went to protect them from people who hated T-shirts or to fight other people who made T-shirts, or giving money to kids in their family who weren’t working enough (because they couldn’t or wouldn’t, that was the question), and meanwhile some kids were having problems paying for their schools and their doctor visits, which they said should be better and cheaper, and there was a whole lot of squabbling about money in general.

About that time, they were also having trouble finding enough made-up-positions in the T-shirt factory, and some of the older kids started saying, “Why don’t those young whipper snappers start making T-shirts, like I did at my age?” But all the new kids had just had their nails done and didn’t want to make T-shirts themselves, and besides, some of them realized that if they were paid the current starting salary to make a T-shirt? Well, that T-shirt would have to be sold for over 15 bucks, and there’s no way the company would make any money like that.

All this was going on, and all the kids were divided into factions that were throwing elephant and donkey poop at each other, and then…

And then Syria had a problem. You see, The Dad in Syria had a pretty bad control and anger problem. About 9 million of his kids ran away, and needed a place to stay.

They knocked on our door. Oh, did I mention this is our family?

Yes, this is our family. 

And  we have 318.9 million children in our family, and not very many of us have jobs that are actually making a profit for the family business. And we’re all thinking that maybe there’s not enough allowance to go around, even though we all have pumpkin spice lattes and iPhones and Black Friday deals and Christmas is coming when we are probably getting everything we want, thanks mostly to our cashback advance Capital One card.

And so what are we going to to do with 2% more kids?

And some of us kids start whispering… Maybe the kids have anger issues too, maybe they’ll come in here and cause problems here.

And other kids say maybe it’s a trick, and their Dad sent them here like a Trojan Horse to sabotage us because he hates us, they’re just pretending, they’ll come in and ruin our family. 

But mostly we just all keep bickering, because that’s all we know how to do in our house.

This is already a fairly long story. And you’re probably falling asleep. I know there are lots of people who know lots more about history and economics and the actual logistics of taking foster children in from other places in the world. I’m sure you can correct my story, you can bitingly refute everything I say with witty, educated responses about how wrong and unenlightened I am, and everyone can laugh and go on with their skits about Kylie Jenner’s lips and whatever next trending topic they’ve designed to distract us, or maybe no one will laugh, because no one will read this, because I’m just one more hashtag Syrianrefugees, and I don’t have enough followers and I’m not on anyone’s radar.

But I think this story has more to do with the refugee problem than people are talking about.

Everyone thinks it’s about the refugees-  are they safe, are they going to come in here and hurt us, But I don’t really think that’s what it’s about.

I think it’s about us, what’s going on in our country.

I haven’t written the ending, because I think that happily ever after would mean that our family woke up and got off our entitled high-horses.

Happily Ever After maybe looks like we work with our bodies instead of social media, and we love our enemies, we do good to those who made the clothes we’re wearing, and we treat our actual neighbors like we actually knew their names.

And that’s hard to do, I know. I don’t do it well myself.

 

But wouldn’t that be a nice ending? Maybe it will happen. Maybe sometime there will be a refugee sleeping in our guest room.

Or maybe the story will end with us saying we just can’t take refugees because we just can’t be brave enough to take a good hard look at our family… at ourselves.

I guess we’ll have to decide.

Sleep well, honey.

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There are an estimated 9 million Syrian refugees.

The president has plans to approve 10 thousand to come next year.

26 State Governors are opposed to relocating Syrians to their state.

The median household income of the 99% in the USA  is $43,585.

 

The median household income for the China, where the T-shirt I’m wearing is from, is $6,180.

The US National debt is over 18 TRILLION dollars right now. That’s a crazy number, and that’s a crazy link. I don’t fully understand it. Does anyone want to try to explain it to me?  (I would also like to know why it looks like for every 3 citizens, there’s about 1 taxpayer.) Here’s more about the top 10 countries that the US is in debt to, including itself.