Wednesday, June 26, 2019

They Are Human Lives Lost, Not a Political Statement!

In response to the news of Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez and his 23-month-old daughter, Valeria, who drowned in an act of desperation, the Church expressed sorrow and dismay over the loss of life. The US bishops expressed concerns about the policies that left people, waiting months for asylum, to desperate acts.

Shamefully, some Catholics responded callously with an attitude of “it’s their own damn fault and nothing to do with us,” arguing that any policies we in the US have are entirely blameless. That’s an attitude completely at odds with our Catholic Faith, and demonstrates just how damaging our political divide is becoming.

First of all, regardless of one’s political views, we should grieve over the loss of life without trying to reduce it to the political motivations. Second of all, everyone reading about this story should be asking—again, without political motivation—whether we should do something besides going “tsk tsk” over something “far away” or immediately jumping in to defend government policies. Third, citizens of the countries involved should honestly ask themselves whether policies or conditions in their own countries contribute to these tragedies.

Matthew 25:31-46 gives us a warning. If we refuse to help those in need when it is in our power to do so, we will answer for it (cf. Luke:16:19-31). I’m sure that the people Our Lord was talking about in His parables had excuses for their not getting involved. But those excuses were of no avail when they came to judgment.
Yes, in hindsight, this family would have been better off not trying to cross the river than to drown crossing it. But I think we forget the conditions in other places might be so bad that those living under them are driven to risks we can’t imagine taking ourselves.

The second picture in this article is of Peter Fechter, who was killed in 1962 trying to cross the Berlin Wall. Yes, there are some differences. He was deliberately killed, not killed in an accident. But the similarity is that both cases involved people who were so desperate to escape the conditions they were trapped in that they felt driven to try these attempts. In neither case can we shrug our shoulders and say “they shouldn’t have tried it,” as if it had nothing to do with us. If we do, we might find Our Lord saying at the Final Judgment, Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me. (Matthew 25:45)

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