Dear Sweet Girl:
You don’t know me but I have been looking at your picture all week. You are from Central America. Your mother was trying to enter the United States. She wanted a better life for you. She was doing what any mother would do. She was trying to protect her daughter. Trying to help her daughter escape a world of violence. And poverty. And hunger. She was coming to the United States because she was desperate for you to have a better life. I’m a parent, and when you’re a parent, the only thing that matters to you is your child.
There are things happening to you right now that you cannot understand, things much bigger than your fragile existence in this world. It is unfair to you. But it happens everyday to children around the world. There are 28 million refugee children in the world. These are families fleeing a violent country for a safe country. There are 20 million migrant children in the world right now, boys and girls and families wanting a better life in a different country.
You deserve a better life. Many children have been separated from their parents over the last weeks. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Two wrongs only make one really big wrong. Many of us in our country know it is wrong when children are taken away from their mothers and fathers. We are outraged and embarrassed and anguished over what has happened. Some of us do not even recognize our own country, a country we love and a country we cherish.
You might wonder – Why do I care? I’m a person of faith, and as a person of faith, I try to follow the teachings of Jesus. Many times I fail but I try. The Jesus I love once said, “Let the little children come unto me.” The Jesus I love once said, “It would be better for a person to drown in a river, than to cause a child to stumble.” That was his dramatic way of saying – All children deserve love and care and goodness. The Jesus I love once said: “To be one of my true followers, you must become like a little child.” The Jesus I love once said: “Anytime you help a child, you are helping me, and if you don’t help a child, you are not helping me.”
I’m getting older now, but I was once a child. I used to sing a song in church titled – “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world . . .” I still remember that song. I believe all children are God’s children. I believe you are a child of God. When I see you crying in this picture, I think that God is crying too. I wonder if anyone will sing to you tonight? I wonder if anyone will hold you tonight or read a story to you or say a prayer with you before you fall asleep?
You will carry this nightmare inside your body for the rest of your life. Some are trying to blame your mother. I cannot blame a mother or a father for wanting a better life for a child. My heart is breaking for you today. And not just my heart, but for many of us in the United States of America, we are shocked that we are in this situation.
All of this could have been avoided. What has happened to you and your mother this past week, and thousands of others, was not about the law; it was about a policy. There’s a difference between a policy and a law. There are many different ways of enforcing laws, but this particular policy is inhumane and completely unnecessary.
I’m in such turmoil over your plight that I can hardly stop thinking about what has happened to you. On the other hand, I am outraged, outraged like the great prophets in the Hebrew Bible, outraged over the moral injury that has been inflicted upon you, outraged that people are playing games with your suffering, outraged over the bigotry that I see in so many Americans, and outraged over the exploitation of human suffering. I think Jesus is outraged, at least the Jesus I love.
Oh sweet little girl . . . when I see you now I am not just seeing you. I am seeing the face of Jesus. Tiny and dirty and smudged with sweat and tears, that’s the face of Jesus I see today. When I hear you crying, I hear Jesus crying for help, Jesus crying for his mother Mary, Jesus bewildered over how cruel and calloused we can be toward one another.
It may not seem like much to you today, but if I could, my wife and I would bring you and your family into our home tonight. We would bathe you and feed you and put clean clothes on you. Our church would give you a clean bed and a quiet bedroom, and we would read stories to you until you fell asleep. But we cannot do that tonight. And so we are praying for you. And we are praying for America too. We are praying that our country will come to its moral senses and begin treating all people with dignity, love and respect, and especially all the children of the world. Praying may not seem like much to you, but some days that’s all we know to do. God bless you sweet girl.
Rev. Dr. R. Scott Colglazier