We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Action is the only remedy to indifference, the most insidious danger of all.
Elis Wiesel, Night
The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
(Let’s call this a social justice lament…)
Let’s pause a minute…
We seem to be a “behind the curve, behind the time” people.
Something bad happens. It was predictable. All we had to do was read the signs, and pay attention to the words, and then we would know the bad is coming.
In fact, people are yelling pretty loudly that the bad is coming. But we do not listen… And because we do not listen, we know not what to say. And so, we are silent.
That’s pretty much true with any oppressed people group…
So, check the numbers – more African Americans are in prison that any other group in America, by far (not “actual numbers” – percentages). Something has happened in our culture that has led a massive percentage of African American men to spend the better part of their lives in prison.
And, we have been talking, and avoiding, and talking, and avoiding immigration action for so long.
And, the most eloquent voices on behalf of the “oppressed” are always people among the oppressed. Like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Like Elie Wiesel. And, like Jorge Ramos.
There are not many like Jorge Ramos. A knowledgeable journalist (Emmy award winning News Anchor for Univision), but also an activist voice. I’ve read one book by him, and I’m working my way through another. There are a few more to go.
Here are the opening lines of his book A Country for All: An Immigrant Manifesto.
Now is the time.
For millions of immigrants in the United States, their worst nightmare is becoming a reality.
It is reminiscent of Dr. King’s I Have a Dream speech. Here’s the key paragraph:
We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.
“Now is the time” said Dr. King and Mr. Ramos, for “all of God’s children.”
But, the time came, and now in many ways progress has been lost, and we have taken steps back, when it comes to equality for all.
Jorge Ramos included the above quote from Elie Wiesel at the front of his book A Country for All. “Now is the time,” he wrote. The book was published in 2010, in the midst of hope for the DREAM act to pass. The DREAM act would have benefitted many, but not all. It made it though the House. The President was ready to sign it. A majority in the Senate was ready to pass it. But it was blocked…. And, it turns out, “now is the time,” I guess was not yet actually the time.
And, so, the immigrants continue to live some kind of “invisible life.” From the book:
They live in the shadows. Being seen is a great risk and could mean deportation from the country that they have called home for years, the country where their children were born and, for many, their grandchildren too.
They live in silence.
It’s tough to make your voice heard from the shadows…
We do await action. And, probably, action will come when the crisis is big enough that action can no longer be avoided.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could act in advance of crisis?
And, so, we await action – in the midst of the silence of the many…