Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Border Crisis, Unaccompanied Minors, and the Downside of Compassion

With thousands of unaccompanied minors streaming across the increasingly porous borders of the United States, there is an obvious need for compassion for these children. But compassion comes in many forms and some of them can be destructive. Take, for example, the compassionate US law that motivates families and governments from afar to send children here without their parents and loving relatives to care for them. As the Bush Administration came to a close, there was a compassionate bipartisan effort to sign the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 which had a provision to protect children victims of sex trafficking by making it harder to send them back to their home countries if they were from somewhere besides Mexico and Canada. Local parents and governments in Central American nations seemed to understand this law better than our lawmakers did and have exploited it mightily, sending thousands here knowing that they would be granted asylum and receive the many benefits of being a US resident. Our compassion, unfortunately, is motivating parents to abandon their children. Perhaps it's time for the tougher compassionate that stops the incentives to abandon kids?

Obviously, we must be compassionate when we encounter a child in need. But what happens when that one child at your door becomes 10 children, then 100, then 100,000? The standard compassionate approach in this country is to say that all should be taken in and welcomed--by someone else, with someone else's money. I don't have an easy answer for how to deal with the immediate crisis, except to say that we must also address and repair some of the root issues behind the problem.

There are other downsides to our unbounded border compassion to worry about. While parents abandoning children is deplorable, I can sympathize with local governments that may wish to abandon gang members. Sadly, young gang members are among those who are being welcomed to the U.S., allegedly with no obvious effort to separate out the gangsters. Meanwhile, I worry that the non-gangsters coming here without roots and without parents will be more vulnerable to the lure of violent gangs.

There are still other issues. You might not have noticed, but there are a lot of people in this world that hate America. And not all of them are in Hollywood. Some are in foreign countries that would love to have a chance to come here and create a little havoc. In a world of violence and terrorism, there are good reasons to have tightly controlled borders. An open border where anyone can get in by just walking across the border, or even coming in a scheduled bus, is a security risk with severe potential consequences. Regardless of which party the new immigrants are going to support in future elections, our elected officials need to put our local security as a top priority. Instead of spending billions or trillions to police the world and invade other nations, how about if we get back to protecting our own? It can be done. Bring our troops home. Put some of them on the border. Border security is possible.

The vast majority of the unaccompanied minors coming here are being granted asylum with no serious effort to get them back to their families and communities. They will probably spend their lives here. May they be productive, peaceful lives. Some, we are told, may become the next Steve Jobs and spend their time making and marketing overpriced products that will strengthen the economy and make the world better. Great--but out of fairness to the many other potential Steve Jobs from places like Norway, China, and India who have been waiting for years to get through our ridiculously difficult legal immigration process, perhaps we need to expand our compassion enough to treat everyone a little more equally and ask folks to get in line (while speeding up the legal line). Meanwhile, casually allowing entry to those who wish to bring violence to our streets will make life a lot more difficult for everyone seeking to build, to create, or to just raise families in peace. Let's bless the world with generous legal immigration opportunities for those who wish to love and build up our nation, and protect our borders for the security of all of us.

Yes, show compassion to the children who come here, but make reuniting them with their parents and communities a top priority. There should be no incentives for child abandonment. The law that does that should be swiftly fixed.

At the risk of questionable speculation, I think that the growing threat of gang violence in our cities, amplified by a surge in illegal immigration and loopholes of American compassion, might add plausibility to a puzzling prophecy in the Book of Mormon in 3 Nephi 20:
[15] And I say unto you, that if the Gentiles do not repent after the blessing which they shall receive, after they have scattered my people --
[16] Then shall ye, who are a remnant of the house of Jacob, go forth among them; and ye shall be in the midst of them who shall be many; and ye shall be among them as a lion among the beasts of the forest, and as a young lion among the flocks of sheep, who, if he goeth through both treadeth down and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver.
Also see 3 Nephi 21:
[12] And my people who are a remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles, yea, in the midst of them as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of sheep, who, if he go through both treadeth down and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver.
[13] Their hand shall be lifted up upon their adversaries, and all their enemies shall be cut off.
[14] Yea, wo be unto the Gentiles except they repent; for it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Father, that I will cut off thy horses out of the midst of thee, and I will destroy thy chariots;
[15] And I will cut off the cities of thy land, and throw down all thy strongholds....
My reading of the statements of Christ in 3 Nephi 20 and 21 is that the descendants of some of the original peoples in the Americas (who, yes, are descended from Jacob, even if the percentage of Hebraic ancestry is very small due to an abundance of Asiatic DNA also present) will be a source of great trouble for some American cities, though many of them will also be converted and help build up the kingdom of God and be part of the New Jerusalem to come. I'm really not sure what to make of the prophecies and there are many ways they could be fulfilled, but it's interesting to see that what once sounded like a remote and improbable event could be realistically fulfilled in light of ongoing events. There is a genuine threat looming from the weapons being accumulated by gangs and from their swelling ranks. Drug-related violence from gangs is destroying too many communities south of the border (or rather, south of the line formerly known as "the border"), and I don't think US cities have even begun to see how devastating that can become.

Of course, the ultimate answer to most problems is not in law and armies, but in the Gospel. Whatever policies our nation adopts, let us love those who are in our midst, documented or not, and give those who wish the opportunity to receive the blessings of the Gospel. In so doing, may families be strengthened and may children be kept with their parents wherever possible. Meanwhile, may our Gentile cities take a cue from 3 Nephi 20 and 21 and recognize the real lesson there: repent and follow Jesus Christ.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

If you read George Friedmann's The Next 100 Years, he makes the possibility of in 2080 or so that after all these years of encouraging huge immigration to pay for Social Security and other baby boomer problems, a resurgent economically and military powerful Mexico may take back the Mexican Cession by sheer demographics, new Mexican nationalist/terrorist groups formed in regards to US deportations of citizens in the US even 50+ years, and mass protests,use of the national guard, etc, etc. He also points out that our increased secularism will continue to grow what we as Mormons call wickedness. As the US gets richer and wickeder, Mexico will get wealthier, more righteous (I won't judge), and more able to challenge the United States for control of both the Continent, and the world. Interesting how relevant the so called "forgery of Joseph Smith" that too many critics call the Book of Mormon is today and will continue to help us understand the world as it is.

Your insightful commentary is appreciated.

Anonymous said...

If Mexico could reform its government in such a way that it could become economically powerful, there wouldn't be a problem.

Anonymous said...

"Interesting how relevant the so called "forgery of Joseph Smith" that too many critics call the Book of Mormon is today and will continue to help us understand the world as it is."

As it is? The BoM cannot even help us understand the world as it WAS. There isn't one piece of undisputed archeological proof that supports it as a work of antiquity. We can't even examine the what it was translated from, nothing exists.

Steve Martin said...

They got a fence around the White House. I wonder why?

Ever country needs a door that is only opened from the inside.

We have doors on our homes. Does that make us not compassionate?

Anonymous said...

I have a lot of empathy for those that make the sojourn across the Southern border of the United States. The opportunities available to those that come are unparalleled, especially when compared to developing nations in the Western hemisphere.

From a strictly rational perspective, the actions of parents south of the border may be a reflection of the true hopelessness of these impoverished nations, esp. for the 99% that do not have connections to power, wealth, much less clean water, basic sanitation, and safety from warring drug factions.

If I were a parent in such circumstances, I might at least contemplate the same . . . again, noting the paucity and risk the child would face anyway.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @10:04

Wouldn't it be wonderful if some fantastically rich multinational concern involved itself in the care of the poor and abatement of their poverty? Some ostensibly charitable concern that got tax exemption for it's supposed charitable acts, let's say. One that thought it had all the answers because they have officials who can speak directly to god. One that had a small army of strong young volunteers at its disposal. One that has a nearly inexhaustible income from not only it's generous faithful but it's extensive and profitable real estate and corporate holdings.

Wouldn't that be wonderful!

Orbiting Kolob said...

When Jeff writes that "the ultimate answer to most problems is not in law and armies, but in the Gospel," and that "Whatever policies our nation adopts, let us love those who are in our midst," I have a glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, he will come to understand the whole Jesus thing, and finally understand how little it has to do with Mormonism and most other brands of Christianity. (Just the tiniest bit of hope, however. If Jeff ever does come to understand the message of Jesus, will he choose to sell all his possessions and give the money to the poor? I doubt it.)

Pierce said...

Let me get this straight, Orbiting. You have come to the understanding of the message of Jesus, and you have sold all your possessions and given it all to the poor?

For someone that has no computer, you sure keep up with blogs pretty well.

Orbiting Kolob said...

Pierce, I don't claim to be a follower of Jesus. So why would I sell all my possessions and give the money to the poor?

I understand the message of Jesus quite well, and I reject it.

Pierce said...

Ah, so you are telling a believer and a person of religious faith what it means to be a disciple of Christ and how to incorporate the Gospel message successfully and richly into his life, while you reject the message and don't have active experience incorporating it into your own daily life.

You'll excuse me if I don't find your condescending judgment credible.

bubbatis said...

If there was any real concern in Washington for immigrants there would have been immigration reform that made coming into the U.S. easier some time ago.

Orbiting Kolob said...

Ah, so you are telling a believer and a person of religious faith what it means to be a disciple of Christ.

Well, yes. And why shouldn't I? The Scriptures are there for me to read as well as for you.

I'm a pretty good reader, and I think I know exactly what Jesus meant when he said (for example) that the judgement would arrive before his listeners' generation passed away. He meant that it would happen when he said it would happen, and since it didn't happen then, he was wrong, and because he was wrong he was not (and is not) God.

But of course he held this wrong belief quite sincerely, and given such a sincere belief it makes sense that he would tell people to stop laying up treasure on earth, etc. He was conveying a message that made sense in terms of his own understanding of reality; but since I know that history has proved his understanding to have been wrong, it makes sense for me to reject that message. I for one will give thought to the morrow. I for one will not sell all my possessions and give
the money to the poor. I will tend my retirement account and lay up treasure here on earth. And in doing these things I am repudiating Jesus.

So is Jeff if he does these things. So are you.

Your incredulity seems to be based on an assumption that only believers can understand the message of Jesus. Do you really think that assumption is right? If so, why is it right?

Because believing in something makes it true? (If so, then aren't any and all sincerely held beliefs true, given that their adherents incorporate their beliefs "successfully and richly" into their lives?)

Because incorporating the belief "successfully and richly" into one's life makes it true? (If so, then aren't Mormonism, Islam, Catholicism, Bahai, and many other religions true?)

Also, be assured that I too have a life that is successful and rich, without incorporating the Gospel message into it.

Anonymous said...

Orbiting Kolob isn't telling you what to do, Pierce. JESUS told you very clearly what to do. And I suspect, based on his throwing the money changers out of the temple (money changers having been a standard feature of the operations of the temples in Jesus' time) he was telling the ecclesiastical structure what their obligation was as well.

Pierce said...

Being a "pretty good reader" is much, much different than living the life of a Christian and spending a good portion of your life trying to live in accordance to scripture, especially in a time and place removed from where those scriptures took place.

Orbiting demonstrates this point by taking things like "this generation shall not pass away" and personally interpreting it to mean "this crowd of people won't die" before the second coming. He ignores the Greek and the context and doesn't understand that Jesus was most likely referring to the Jews (genea=family, stock, nation). As well-read as Orbiting Kolob may be, he misses several parts in the NT where Jesus does not require people (including wealthy people) to give up everything they have to the poor and to be a travelling disciple. While treating the poor with mercy was very high on Jesus' priorities, it wasn't the highest priority, and there was not a blanket commandment to sell everything to the poor. Yet Orbiting uses this as a standard to measure whether or not a person is a genuine Christian.

And those are the kinds of nuances you miss when you have simply read a book instead of dedicating your life to deep study, contemplation, and application.

Orbiting Kolob is merely selectively taking isolated scriptures and using them to be condescending to others (who know they do not perfectly live by everything Jesus taught) and exempts himself from these requirements by disinheriting Christ. I am not impressed with what he is saying.

Orbiting, it is telling that you were very defensive in your last post. I was not talking about truth claims. And my comment about incorporating the Gospel message successfully and richly into my life has nothing to do with whether or not you can do it without it. What exactly are you trying to prove?

Orbiting Kolob said...

Pierce, I stand by my main point that Jesus wrongly believed himself to be preaching at the brink of the end of the world, and that his pronouncements about laying up treasure etc. (1) made sense in that context, (2) were meant to be taken quite literally, and (2) were and remain quite literally bad advice that hardly any Christian follows today.

Instead of taking Jesus' mistake as evidence that he was not God, believers engage in creative readings that make the mistake disappear. This not only allows them to continue believing that the scriptures confirm their belief in the divinity of Jesus, it allows them to adapt the scriptures to the needs of modern life. The needs of modern life drive the reading, rather than the other way around. You are not living in accordance with scripture, at least not until you have read scripture in ways that conform it to the modern life you wish to lead.

As you presumably know quite well despite your suggestion to the contrary, my reading of scripture is not merely personal and idiosyncratic.* It is rather more widely shared than that. It's informed by and consistent with the whole thrust of secular and academic biblical scholarship (which severely undermines traditional faith and shows the Bible to be something very different than the faithful think it to be). Traditional Christian beliefs about the Bible are akin to flat-eartherism.** They just don't accord with the facts. Believe what you want, and have fun justifying it in apologetical forums such as this, but don't be surprised to endure a certain amount of condescension from the evidence-based community.

* If you want an excellent example of an idiosyncratic or "personal" reading of scripture, you need look no further than Jeff's reading of Nephi (actually Micah, as channeled by Joseph Smith). Can anyone seriously believe Micah/Joseph to be prophesying about "the growing threat of gang violence in our cities, amplified by a surge in illegal immigration"? That you can read such Hal-Lindsey-esque claptrap and then accuse me of interpreting scripture "personally" is pretty rich.

** The evidence for traditional beliefs about the historicity and truth of scripture are about as strong as the evidence for this.

Pierce said...

Ah, the "evidence-based" community. That is you? No doubt you'll find some who accept your interpretation. But you will find many, many who view it differently. People in the "evidence-based" community, who are able to step outside of their bias for a moment, can accept that.

There are many interpretations that scholars have viewed the phrase through. I pointed out one, which explores the Greek word genea. There are other interpretations as well. You have simply chosen an interpretation in which the Greek and English words are similar, and one in which Jesus was not talking about past or future groups of people. You chose one theory out of several, in which there is no uniform acceptance in the "thrust of academic Biblical scholarship."

You may stand by your point. I don't condemn you for it. It supports your belief structure, which is different than how a person of faith chooses to view Jesus' words.

There is not a point in the scriptures in which Jesus commands all to forsake their livelihood and donate it all to the poor. You choose to miss the idea that Jesus was teaching that we should value treasures in heaven more than worldly goods, and instead took these kinds of verses to mean that we must make ourselves and our families homeless in order to help the homeless.
I will say that I do believe we are under some form of condemnation for not having "all things in common." But until then I will continue to learn about financial sacrifice through tithing, fast offerings, and other donations and service projects.

"You are not living in accordance with scripture"

Well, that much is true on some levels. But I do not consider Orbiting Kolob's interpretation of the New Testament (which is inconsistent with the scriptures as a whole) to be what I measure myself by. And while you are free to judge others by your own understanding, just know that doing so is very unimpressive to people like me.