Saturday, February 11, 2017

We have sinned, and the world suffers

Today's “This American Life” portrayed life at a transit center in Kenya shortly after Donald T signed his travel ban but before it was put on hold. “George” was leading what Ira Glass referred to as “the worst town hall meeting ever” because each person would stand up, say something horrible, and George would have to acknowledge that it is a bitter pill but the boss changed in the US, and the boss decided this, and that's “final for me, final for IOM (the refugee agency), final for you. We cannot do anything about it,” George says.

What kind of horrible things? One man had been in the refugee camp for 26 years, and within the past few weeks finally got his approval to come to the United States. He bought clothes on credit (how much credit? Over a month’s pay for the most highly-paid person in camp!) and now how can he repay the shopkeeper? This man’s travel permission will expire well before the initial 120-day period, and he would have to reapply, putting his dream on hold for perhaps years. Another man declined offers to settle in Canada and Germany(?) because he was set on coming to the United States. Full citizenship was on offer from Canada, I think. How he must rue his faith in us!

I listened to George as he addressed these refugees. He told the debtor that he would have to talk to the shopkeeper and explain what happened, and tell him that he would work to repay him. “That is something explainable to anyone,” he said. I thought about how terrible it must be for him to have to deal with the tremendous disappointment, and I have to say he's got my respect. I thought, “Here's a Real Man, so unlike the adolescent in our White House. We are so impoverished here in America,” and I just started weeping. How did we do this to ourselves? Not just to ourselves, but to the world? And I remembered this:

I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed: “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with all who love him and obey his commands, we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.

Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame--the men of Judah and people of Jerusalem and all Israel, both near and far, in all the countries where you have scattered us because of our unfaithfulness to you. O Lord, we and our kings, our princes and our fathers are covered with shame because we have sinned against you. The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him; we have not obeyed the Lord our God or kept the laws he gave us through his servants the prophets. All Israel has transgressed your law and turned away, refusing to obey you ….

from Daniel 9:4–11
We are a nation racked by violence and injustice; we have racism and sexism and ageism and lookism; we have not embraced the alien and the orphan and the widow and the poor as we should. And so God says to us, as he did to the Laodiceans:
You say, “I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.” But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.
Revelation 3:17
Lord have mercy on us, and not on us only, but also on the world that you love better than we do.

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