We have no king but Caesar

I’ve tried three other columns: happy columns, light columns, ones that steered clear of the feelings of disbelief and discouragement I’ve felt of late. I worry they’re just as unpleasant to read as they are to write.

But I can’t write anything else this week.

I’ve written about politics a lot, and to be honest, I’m tired of it. I’ve written about the need for people to be sensible, to have conversations with each other, to be skeptical. I’ve written about the need to be accepting of other people’s views.

And in a sense, with such columns I’ve painted myself into a corner. I try to be open to other view points. The idea that the Laffer Curve is not junk economics, I accept as a political viewpoint, despite what it did to Kansas.

The idea that we shouldn’t invest the public good, the idea that all schools should be private, that we should have no regulations whatsoever on guns, I accept those as political views, though I strongly disagree.

Even ideas that cut precariously close to what I think it means to be an American, ideas that we should prohibit immigration, legislate the bedroom, regulate some forms of access to our voting; I even accept those things as political viewpoints.

But cruelty, to me, isn’t a political stance.

And despite what you believe in regard to immigration, cruelty has no place in the issue, as it has no place in this country.

I’ve been horrified by the stories being relayed by a myriad of news outlets coming from our southern boarder.

Of late, to be “tough on immigration,” our current attorney general as well as the president, have been separating children from their families—keeping the parents in criminal facilities and the children in makeshift holding facilities.

The practice has made for harrowing images of armed guards taking screaming children from their parents or dozens of children staring out from behind chain link fences. If that doesn’t convince you of the misery these children are going through, search for some of the leaked audio from the facilities where all of the sobs and crying for their parents become audible.

These children committed no crime. They simply came with their parents as they attempted to immigrate or seek asylum into the United States. Seeking asylum in the U.S. is no crime. Immigrating without the proper paperwork qualifies as a misdemeanor, as does a DUI or reckless driving.

Remove the politics for a second. Remove various arguments about when the practice began. Remove the knee-jerk defense mechanism to claim that this reality is really part of a massive conspiracy aimed at undermining an administration that needs no help in that department.

Just look at the entire issue as a human and ask yourself if we should put children and families through such a trauma, simply because their parents tried to achieve the same life and freedoms we all take for granted?

My thought is this: if as a country we decide to turn these people away, then we should do so. What good does it serve to keep their parents in a separate facility until they can be tried with 100 other people in a mass trial and sent back across the border? Does that not waste tax dollars? Can you not skip the separation process and send them back together?

This decision to enforce the separation policy traumatizes children and teaches them about a country that is needlessly cruel.

It shows the world an America that continues to debase itself to appeal to the country’s worst tendencies of protectionism and paranoia. This decision drags our nation through the mud.

And locally, the action only encourages the people in our country that other state-sanctioned acts of cruelty are achievable.

I’ve heard those argue in favor of it shrug their shoulders and say laws are laws. I’ve seen them quote Bible passages such as Romans 13 out of context, saying that good citizens must follow the laws. The same passages that are being quoted were quoted to support the institution of slavery in the United States. They were quoted to support segregation in the United States.

In all fairness, the crucifixion of Christ was a legally sanctioned act by the Roman government.

“Take him away, take him away… we have no king but Caesar,” the crowd shouted.

I hear those words repeated on so many Christian tongues I grew up with and ones that I know now when they argue that a government’s laws trump basic graces of love and compassion.

“We have no king but Trump.”

For me, support of the policy isn’t a political issue, it’s a human one.

And while I work hard to remove politics from the person, I’ve been having a difficult time with this issue. I feel like support of such a policy says far more about a person’s morality than it does their politics. And, unfortunately, I think I’ll remember that about these people in the years to come, long after such a practice is rightfully abolished. Oppose immigration; that’s fine. But don’t relish in cruelty.

Still, I do take hope. For all the ugliness in the world, there still is the spark of human decency, the piece of us that cries out against injustice. Some call this morality, a conscience, a heart, a soul, a piece of the divine.

Call it what you want. It exists. I often see it at my job in the hands and labors and compassion of so many good people. And eventually, as we have seen throughout our country’s history, it will prevail.