What can be more sacred than a nursing baby, safe in its mother’s protective arms? That moment of nurture and love and connection calls to mind Albert Schweitzer’s writings on The Teaching of Reverence for Life.
Does anyone read Schweitzer any more? Is his affirmation for all life – including the lives of people who seem very different from ours – taught in our schools?
I don’t know. But I do know that Schweitzer’s reverence for life — and our calling to live it — has a powerful voice in the person of Sister Simone Campbell, the attorney-nun who came to fame as one of the “Nuns on the Bus,” speaking out for the poor, the marginalized, the oppressed right here in our country. Why do we need the voice of Sister Simone? Because today’s news story tells me that the reverence for life — our humility before the very essence of human existence —is in jeopardy.
Read this news from CNN. You'll stop breathing. You may feel tears. You may wish you could get on a plane to McAllen and go find that baby. (And you wish you could just shake that immigration officer – but that would be fueling the cycle of inhumanity—we can’t let them make us cruel.)
" McAllen, Texas (CNN)The undocumented immigrant from Honduras sobbed as she told an attorney Tuesday how federal authorities took her daughter while she breastfed the child in a detention center, where she was awaiting prosecution for entering the country illegally.
When the woman resisted, she was handcuffed, Natalia Cornelio, the attorney with the Texas Civil Rights Project, recalled from her interview with the woman, who had been detained under the Trump administration's zero-tolerance policy to refer anyone caught crossing the border illegally for federal prosecution. "
Surely none of us is so cruel to as rip a nursing baby from her mother. But if we do nothing, we are complicit. Complicit in an action we could not have imagined, or might have imagined as being the actions of a “third-world” despot. Surely not in a democracy. Surely not in a country with laws.
Right now the laws are being inverted, perverted, controverted to impose cruelty, not justice. But there is a lawyer who can teach us how to reclaim our humanity: Sister Simone Campbell, one of the Nuns on the Bus!
Sister Simone is one of my heroes: she keeps speaking out about poverty when no one (most notably not even one of the presidential candidates in 2008 or 2016) is mentioning this growing crisis. She doesn't tolerate silence when there is injustice. She speaks candidly about the human costs of war, about fairness and equity.
And she is eloquent on the matter of the peoples whose perilous lives are bringing them to the US even when they know their dreams of a safe place for their children are now threatened by the policies of an administration hostile to them as people. (I won’t repeat the words the president and attorney general use to describe these, their fellow human beings – you’ve already heard them and I don’t want a word search to attach them to my name).
What is at stake?
What Sister Simone sees at stake is the values and ethics of a nation complicit with the poor and inhumane treatment of immigrants, specifically immigrants crossing the Mexican border. Here is an article citing her condemnation of the use of the Bible to justify separation of families at the border.
What should we do?
She calls on us to treat migrants in a way that is “humane, just, and fraternal” by improving our detention and deportation practices. “It is a mandate of our faith and our nation. Laws that separate families are unjust and immoral and are no laws at all," she says in regard to the cruel immigration laws enforced by the Trump administration. Here is a Link to the Federal Policies Sister Simone and NETWORK supports as well as some Policy Solutions they have put forward (scroll down to see their ideas for solutions).
I could not be more grateful for the life, the work, the mission, the example of Sister Simone. She would ask us to turn that gratitude into action, that admiration into advocacy. Her example is powerful to the extent we follow it.
To share your ideas about Sister Simone, babies taken from their moms, and actions you are taking to end the immigration cruelty, please click on the “comments” pencil.