IM4Human Integrity was in San Luis Obispo February 12th presenting on findings from the People of Faith Root Causes Pilgrimage to Honduras and Guatemala. Over 60 people were in attendance at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of San Luis Obispo which had been one of the co-sponsors of the Pilgrimage. The event was attended by the Fellowship’s Social Justice Committee, students from Cal-Poly and Cuesta College, a staff member of Congresswomen’s Lois Capp’s office, and other community leaders.
Rev. Rod Richards of the Fellowship shared these words of introduction:
“We, humans, can become very attached to the lines that we draw on a map. There’s an implication that not we, but God has etched the outline of our states and countries into the very dirt and dust and rock. But our borders are lines on a map; lines that haven’t been there so very long at all; lines that have changed and will change…
No, I don’t mean to say that immigration issues can be easily solved if we all just agree that country borders are just lines on a map. I understand that those lines, once drawn, take on all sorts of political and economic and legal meanings that matter. I don’t mean to say that we can ignore the real-world implications of the meanings that we have attributed to these borders, the human suffering that takes place as a result, the economic and political implications, the security risks…the list goes on.
But spiritually speaking, and ethically speaking, and humanly speaking, as we seek solutions to the problems we face, we do have to keep that in mind, that these are lines on a map. We must remember that those borders have no inherent regulations and requirements; they are lines on a map that humans have drawn. Those lines have shifted many times, often at a very high and brutal cost. The Earth and Sea and Sky know nothing of those lines. We, humans, made them up and there is nothing inherently wrong with crossing them. Because we made them up, we can decide together what to do with them. Because we made them up, we should never allow them to tell us who we are; because we made them up, we should never allow them to distort or damage our respect and compassion for each other as human beings.”
Being a self-identified “nation of immigrants,” we are called to respond with sane and compassionate immigration policies based on our ideals rather than to react with simplistic, militaristic proposals fueled by our fears.
Our laws cannot enforce compassion, but every religion and ethical system I know of calls for special consideration for the stranger; the traveler; the outsider in our midst. We are here to call for a new day; a new way that will respect the inherent worth and dignity of each human being and recognize the fact that our family ties—the ties that bind the human family—run across any and all of the lines we may draw.”
IM4HumanIntegrity staff shared the Root Causes of the flow of young people and families from Honduras and Guatemala, including: neoliberal economic policies that promote extractive industries such as monocrop agri culture, mining and large scale dams; state and gang violence, and US policies of intervention and military aid in the region. She urged the audience to urge the US towars a posture of “co-responsibility” for migration by addressing root causes as well as extending support and protection for immigrants once they arrive.
The groups shared their appreciation:
“There was so much to think about. These huge and complicated problems are clearly too big for any one of us, but together we can maybe make some difference. Thank you for providing the big picture and showing possible ways to go.”