Sunday, June 17, 2018

A Pagan perspective on splitting up migrant families.

I'm trying really, really hard not to turn this into a political post. Really hard. Because I said I wouldn't write about politics on this blog, and so far I haven't.  I've skated close to the edge a few times, but I haven't done it.

So let's talk about morality. Specifically, Pagan morality, and how it relates to what's going on at the borders of the United States right now.

I'm not going to talk much about Christianity in this post, tempting as it is to do so, what with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions mentioning a Bible verse this past week as justification for coming down hard on undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers. First, I'm not Christian, or not anymore, and I don't feel comfortable lecturing followers of other religions on whether they're doing it right. Second, over the past few days, I've read plenty of criticism of Sessions' comments by people much better versed in the Bible than I. So a Pagan spin on things it is.

First, a quick primer on Pagan morality. Basically, we have two...let's call them "words to the wise," shall we? Pagans aren't really into rules, and anyway these are more along the lines of "do this and karma will bite you in the ass."

1. The Wiccan Rede, which is best known in its pseudo-medieval phrasing: An it harm none, do as ye will. Translated into normal English, it means you may do whatever you want, unless your actions hurt someone.

2. The Rule of Three, also known as the Threefold Law, which states that whatever energy you put out into the world will come back to you threefold. Put out positive energy, and all will be sweetness and light. Put out negative energy, and see karma mentioned above.

With that in mind, here's a quick recap of recent events: The US government has begun implementing a zero-tolerance policy for undocumented immigrants, particularly those from Central and South America. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents seem to be using this as an excuse to act like the Gestapo, boarding buses far from any border and demanding that passengers prove they're in the country legally. But that's not all. In one recent case, ICE picked up a Mexican man who has been in America legally for 50 years because of a 2001 misdemeanor conviction whose sentence he had successfully completed.

Immigrants who apply for asylum are the latest football. Immigration attorneys say asylum seekers are being subjected to delay after delay, and in some cases the government is losing the background documentation that supports their claim.

Most recently, Border Patrol has begun splitting up families. Undocumented immigrants and those applying for asylum are being detained -- put in jail, in other words -- and their children are being housed elsewhere. Often in another state. The children are sometimes taken under false pretenses -- the parent is told the child is being taken away to have a bath -- and hours later, the parent discovers the child is gone. I've seen one estimate that the government is holding two thousand migrant children whose parents have been detained.

Anyone with an ounce of humanity would agree that this is inhumane. And a whole bunch of people -- me included -- have said this is not what America stands for. We're better than this, aren't we? After all, we've never incarcerated people based on their race before, have we?

Oh, wait. There was that time during World War II when we put Japanese-Americans in concentration camps.

But we've never split up families this way before, have we? Taken children away from their parents so callously?

Um, well, yeah, we have. I'm sure you've heard of slavery. And then there was the practice of stealing Native American children away from their families so they could be sent to boarding school and have the Indian "educated" out of them, one way or another.

What all these horrific actions have in common is the belief that the "other" is not quite human. White Americans believed Indians were savages and slaves were stupid. Japanese-Americans were suspected of being spies. And now, a lot of people believe that Hispanics are rapists and murderers and members of MS-13, or here to steal our jobs, or all of the above.

For Pagans, this is inconceivable. Many of us are animists, who believe everything has a spirit, including trees and rocks. And if those can have spirits, surely all humans do, too -- no matter the color of their skin. All beings have innate dignity. All deserve to live without harm.

As for those who are participating in this ongoing atrocity -- from those who are incarerating children to those who are defending the government's actions, as well as those who could stop it but aren't, for the sake of political expediency? If they won't listen to their own religious teachings, they might consider heeding the Rede and the Threefold Law. Because people are being harmed by their actions, and the energy they're sending out is clearly negative. And karma's a bitch.

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These moments of karmic blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.
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