Teachable Moment – Family Matters

Consider this a special Lambchow in response to current events. This may become a feature when situations occur that give us pause. Because these may be controversial the intent is to avoid advocating for a side, engage in endless fact-checking, or pointing fingers of blame and shame.

Event: The fallout from the zero-tolerance policy at the southern border of the United States.

Escalation: Issues with people illegally entering the United States have been a continuing problem and a political wedge for many decades. Laws are on the books. They were passed by Congress and signed by the then current President to deal with the issue. Like many laws, enforcement efforts at the border laws have varied over the decades. Other laws and court findings also impact the applicable current procedures.

In recent months the Trump administration declared a zero-tolerance policy for those caught attempting to enter the country illegally. All adults caught crossing the border without permission are being held until their case can be heard. The combination of these laws, court findings, and policies create a situation where children are held in separate facilities until the adult’s case can be completed.

This is not a new situation; the same thing occurred under past administrations. It is made worse however by the greatly enlarged numbers of people, children, and families because everyone is being detained. Zero tolerance instead of catch, release, and hope they come to their court date.

Emotions are high. Hyperbolic rhetoric is rampant. Both sides are wrong and right at the same time. There are high political stakes and both parties are using these families and children as pawns to gain power.

The Teachable Moment: The one thing we all agree on is that family matters. Keeping children with their parents is the ideal. The pictures and sounds of children being divided from their parents and wanting them back is heart-rending. The gut-wrenching compassion being felt is a good thing and should tell us something often discarded in our own lives.

But fair warning. To get this teachable moment it is necessary to lay aside all the politics and tribalism that accompany these events. This moment. These feelings of wrong concerning the separation of families should cause us to pause and consider our own family.

Our base reaction to the plight of children at the border should remind us that family matters. Even ours.

Here are some questions to consider. Do I separate from my own children to do my own thing? Are we living separately in the same house? Am I estranged from any of my family? Parents, children, brothers, sisters, grandparents, uncles, aunts, even cousins?  Do we hold any family members in cages of unforgiveness, bitterness, and contempt? That too is wrong and deserves to be corrected like the current situation at the border. Family matters.

Dale Heinold
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