Last week’s election has left a lot of people filled with anxiety and uncertainty, especially our brothers and sisters who immigrated here. Millions of people who have come here from other countries or whose families did so, often because they were fleeing violence and persecution, are in imminent danger. Immigration reform was one of the key points of the Trump platform, which includes building a wall at the Mexico-US border, deporting people without documentation, and barring new immigrants from entry. That some Trump supporters rallied around the objectification of undocumented immigrants as a focus of hate is equally scary to me. At the North Carolina Council of Churches, we believe that we who follow Jesus are called to offer our neighbors the love of God in all we do. In our words and actions, we need to offer hope and healing to those who feel alone, hopeless, and broken. We mourn with our Latino and immigrant neighbors who most likely feel that half of America hates them, or at the very least that Americans are comfortable with a President who has expressed a firm commitment to sending immigrants back to where they came from.
While the results of this past week’s election are not due to the actions of any one person, like many people, I couldn’t help but feel somewhat responsible. As the director of immigration programs at the Council, I am committed to working harder – to focus our education outreach on rural areas to educate people about immigrants and refugees, to organize and train people of faith to speak with their legislators about anti-immigrant or anti-refugee bills that will likely come up in the next legislative session, and to provide hospitality and support to the Latino community in their suffering. We must find ways to connect with those who are seen as “the other,” instead of believing the stereotypes and myths that the Trump campaign heavily touted. We need to work together in these difficult times to build bridges and coalitions that will move us all toward a sense of being the beloved community.
As people continue to search for ways that they can overcome the disunity and hatred that we have seen during and after the election, I want to offer some ways that you can embody justice for the oppressed and practice hospitality to all of our brothers and sisters. First, pray, and if you’ve already prayed, then pray some more. Pray for our nation and the world’s people. Pray for peace. Pray for courage to speak up when you see injustice occurring and to reach out to those who are hurting.
After you pray, be of service to others. Volunteer with your local refugee resettlement office or teach ESL at the local literacy center. There are many great organizations in our state that are working for peace and justice in our state. Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like suggestions.
Finally, organize. There is a lot of work to be done – hard work that will only be accomplished if we do it together. This requires working with those who are different from ourselves, including those of different faiths and ideologies. It will take all of us working together to create a nation and a future where all people are protected and have the tools to flourish regardless of their color, nationality, sexual identity, or religious affiliation. Unity will not happen at the ballot box, but around dinner tables, in neighborhoods and communities, and in interfaith gatherings. To this end, the Council will be hosting a webinar in early December about political organizing around immigration at the federal and state level. We’ll provide more information soon.
In these difficult times when we feel isolated and hopeless, we must remain rooted in love for each other and recognize the image of God in each and every person as we resist and challenge the forces which seek to divide us. Let us pray, and then work together to show hospitality to all and to organize in support of liberty and justice for all:
“Lord, any good thing that comes today is of your doing. Any victory over injustice, poverty, hunger, sickness, loneliness, displacement, and greed is by your might. We are merely channels for your work. Use us as you see fit and help us stand back when necessary. Amen.” (From Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals, the prayer for November 10, two days after the election)