This woman is proud to care

Commentary

Yes, I am a Bleeding Heart liberal and I am not ashamed to have grown up Catholic. The term is a Protestant slam on Catholics in general and of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in particular.

Once there were only First Nation’s people living on this continent. Then Europeans, mostly Protestant, settlers came. Later there was a wave of immigrants from Poland, Italy and Ireland. The Anglo Saxons already settled here looked at these newcomers and their Catholic faith with suspicion. They didn’t like these strange people with their strange ways. They saw the love of Mary, Mother of God, as heathen. They saw the Sacred Heart of Jesus on every kitchen wall as witchcraft.

My grandmother was a devout Catholic. She would point to the Sacred Heart above the table in her kitchen and tell me. “Jesus died for you. He pays for your sins with his blood. Every time you are unkind to someone you cause his heart to bleed. You can make up for your sins. You can help someone who can’t help you back, be grateful you can do something, you have two good hands. You don’t know someday you might be the one who needs help, you might be saved by someone you don’t know.”

In the 1930s, the Catholic Worker Newspaper called for people to “act out their love of Jesus” by feeling and acting on a personal obligation to “look after the needs of our brother” and practice the Works of Mercy daily. Penance, charity, worship all in one.

Westbrook Pegler was a conservative columnist in the 1930s. He used the term Bleeding Heart to refer to anyone “with an excess of feeling,” anyone acting on their heart, Catholic or not. Someone “who clamors that not a single person be allowed to go hungry,” that every child belongs in school and every elderly person deserves an old age pension check (social security).

I am proud to call myself a bleeding heart. Bleeding hearts brought us the eight-hour day, the weekend, paid sick leave, Child Labor Laws and Social Security. My heart is torn by the cries of these children at the border. Fox News at first said “It’s not happening.” Then they asked “Where was all this indignation when Obama was doing this?” Obama wasn’t separating families. That started under Trump.

Conservatives have also said “we have to do this, before illegals were being picked up, given a ticket and let go, never to be heard from again. Catch and Release” Not true, the vast majority of people processed for asylum come for their hearings. These people desperately want to have legal status.

Now I have been hearing “people in prison don’t get to be with their kids either. Why don’t you care about that?” I do care about that. I care very much about the growing prison system in our country. We have more people in prison than anywhere else on the planet. We can invest in prison or we can invest in schools. Prison is expensive and not a good return on the dollar.

Right now we are talking about the fact that over 2,000 children have been separated from their families and we don’t know where they all are. There is no plan to get them back together. Traumatic separation like this can cause permanent damage to a developing mind. No child deserves that. We are told in Matthew 19:14 “…Jesus said “Let the children come onto me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven” We have a responsibility to take care of all children.

What would Jesus do if he were to encounter these families? Most likely he would start by listening to their stories. Many of these people left their homes because the drug cartels specifically threatened to kill them. The same cartels that are responsible for our own opium epidemic. The band of human misery stretches full circle from where it’s made to where it’s used.

It’s up to us to see our common humanity, our common problems and find common solutions. These people looking for a chance to make a better life are no different than my own Polish grandparents. They want the same things, they just have darker skin. We should listen to what Jesus said in Matthew 25: 35-40 “… I was a stranger and you welcomed me …. When did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee? …. Truly I say to you as you did unto the least of these you did to me…”

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