Foreign to Each Other

“We can’t even say prayers in our own schools anymore. But yet, we can build mosques across the country.”  Arlene Hawk of Ravelli County, Montana

rural-urban-mosaicI can’t stop thinking about this article. (Heads up:  there’s profanity.)  And the interview quoted above made me want to pull my hair out.  The interview was on NPR.  Of course it was.

Here are things I love:  NPR, The Atlantic, The New York Times, urban
coffee shops, Chicago Ideas Week.  I am an urban snob.  I grew up in a college town with well educated people from all over.  I have lived in cities for most of my adult life.  I have enjoyed privileges that come with white skin, college degrees, and money.  My car has heated seats for heaven’s sake.

Here are other things I love: the smell of cow manure and freshly mowed hay, church pork dinner fundraisers, men in dirty farm shirts with big bellies, women in aprons frying fish, diner waitresses with lots of blue eye shadow.  My extended family is from rural towns with populations under 1500.  My first call was in a tiny village with a population under 700.

The Cracked article helps explain why many people are angry.  Their jobs have gone away.  They are mocked.  They are called “a mass of ignorant, rageful, crude, cursing, spitting subhumans.”

No wonder our nation is divided.  We don’t understand each other.  We don’t even want to.

We are foreign to each other.

Even people who share the same religion and read the same Bibles disagree with the meaning of these words:

  • “So show your love for the alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.” Deuteronomy 10:19
  • “The alien has not lodged outside, for I have opened my doors to the traveler.”  Job 31:32
  • “For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in;” Matthew 25:35

Welcoming the aliens includes welcoming people who have alienated us and welcoming people whom we have alienated.  Maybe the foreigners are from Syria and maybe they are from Montana.  But we have got to stop mocking each other, stop demonizing each other, stop sharing misinformation about each other.

Fear of the other is killing us.

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