Loving your neighbor

Loving your neighbor
I‘ve been unable to sleep well these days. So after about 15 minutes, if I’m not asleep, I wander back to the living room and start surfing channels. Sometimes, the remote takes me to FOX News — and like a bad car accident, I have to linger and catch a glimpse.

As I watched, a commentator said that he wasn’t a racist, but that he could tell the truth because he’s not a politician. The truth? All illegal immigrants should be sent back to Mexico, he said, because it’s the law. But I just wonder if he uses that same logic with the speed limit or jaywalking on himself. Now, that’s a little unfair, right? I mean, he could be a boy scout in an commentator’s suit — but it’s funny how we call for the law when it lines up with our values and yet cry “foul” when it doesn’t.

Last December, the House of Representatives passed a bill — by a vote of 239 to 182 — to make felons out of 12 million illegal immigrants, and make it a felony to help or hire one. The Senate has softened the language, dropping the felony provisions back in March. The debate rages on, as Senators and Representatives tweak the bill for its vote next week. So it’s clear that the law changes, so how can we merely invoke the law as an ultimate authority without thinking, feeling and praying more deeply about the impact it will have on this country. Is it a felony to help our neighbor?

If I’m invoking authorities, let’s talk about Jesus. When summing up the Law, he said, “‘Love the Lord your God will all of your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Does that include Mexico? It seemed to include Samaria, the hated half-Jews, half-Assyrians of the time. Even in the Law, God said repeatedly, “Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt.” They were to remember their past. Weren’t we Americans aliens once, when we came over on the Mayflower and resided in a land that wasn’t ours?

Now, I’m not informed enough — nor naive enough — to suggest a policy. But perhaps one that cares for our neighbor and doesn’t mistreat the alien would be a good first step.