La Frontera 2016

Wednesday 9 November 2016

I have a lot of printed t-shirts hanging in my closet, and I’m usually thoughtful about which one I wear on a given day. Yesterday, working the election polls, I decided to go with my Chicago neighborhoods tee (which looks like this, but on a shirt).

Today, flipping through my shirts, I stopped and pulled down my Camp Mowana “La Frontera” theme shirt. The meaning that we were shared (at least as I internalized it) of “La Frontera” was of a place between, neither here nor there, a place of transition from what was to what is to come. In seeing that word and what it’s come to mean for me in the 10+ years since I obtained the shirt, I decided it was the appropriate way to capture my mood this day. (The shirt is subtitled “Where Jesus Meets Us” for some context for the camp’s choice of theme.)

Sitting here, the day after our citizenry (or at least those of age who decided to vote and are not restricted by law from doing so) went to the polls and elected a man who has shown callous disregard for so many different groups of people, I feel between. We’re obviously moving forward, at least in terms of calendar time, but it’s also clear that we’re in the middle of something big.

While there were likely many people who voted for Donald J. Trump out of animus for specific groups and peoples (Blacks, Muslims, Mexicans, Immigrants, Jews, even women), I suspect that that population alone would not have been enough to propel Trump to the presidency. Instead, there were many who simply turned a blind eye to this part of Trump, taking an “It’s not that important” stance to these issues and focusing instead on his anti-establishment rhetoric and their dissatisfaction with the political status quo when dealing with their (economic) lives.

Whatever the reason citizens opted to vote for Trump (who appears to have not even received the most votes overall, just enough in the right states—but that’s a topic for another day), our country will soon know the leadership of a man who embodies a white supremacist and xenophobic framework, supported by an electorate who at worst find this trait positive and at best find it negligible. (I’d be remiss if I didn’t note that I believe failing to condone such oppression is unacceptable and as good as promoting  that oppression.)

For me, this time—definitely this day, likely the next two months, but perhaps also the coming four or more years—has all the feelings of what I envision for La Frontera. It will be a time of struggle as we figure out where our country, full of a vast number of peoples with a vast number of beliefs and ideals, goes from here.

How can we create a land where all people are able to live in peace and comfort and seek self-fulfillment? How do we heal the wounds that (not only this election cycle but) our history has given so many of us? How do we listen to one another and recognize that my ability to live a full and valuable life does not depend on others suffering, and vise versa?

There are no easy answers, and (as always) the outcome of this election, no matter who had won, didn’t make these questions any less relevant. After all, it takes more than a president to change a country (see: Barack Obama).

As we move through La Frontera, it is important for all of us to ask ourselves what our role will be in the healing future of our country and its peoples. If you’re seeking a place to start on this first Wednesday after the first Monday in November, I recommend it be there.


question your sources

Friday 21 December 2007

Being off for a few weeks, I’ve been able to do a lot more reading and watching of media coverage of world and current events (and too much Clash of the Choirs, too, I might add). Today I was reading an AP article about pilgrims flocking to Bethlehem for Christmas where I read, close to the end of the article, this sentence, dropped in rather nonchalantly: “Israel is building the [West Bank separation] barrier in an effort to keep out Palestinian suicide bombers.”

Because of the witness of a friend of mine, I’ve become engrossed in the Palestinian situation in the past few months, reading testimonies by peacemakers from groups like Christian Peacemaker Teams and Michigan Peace Team and individual blogs by those currently in Palestine. Thanks to these reading, I was able to take this sentence and other words and comments we come to hear daily for what they really are: falsehoods.

It’s easy to accept this separation wall — 25 feet tall in most places completed — as being about national security. I mean, they want to build a wall at the border of Mexico for that reason, right? Unfortunately, things aren’t always as cut and dry as they seem. Firstly, he wall being built isn’t being built on political borders because, really, there aren’t any other than the supposed border set up in the late 1940s. Because Israel later captured these lands in 1967, there is really no longer an official border.

So one might expect if there were to be a wall to protect a border, you’d at least build it on the border. But as it goes, the wall is being built to encompass land that belongs to Palestinians, in reality illegally stealing land for Israeli settlers.

The situation is much too complicated for me to explain fully here, but I encourage you do to not take my word for it and do your own research. Read stories from the links I’ve posted here and examine other media sources. But above all, question what you read and see on TV, asking if there might be another side to the story or an ulterior motive for the way something is reported. It might take some time and effort to uncover reality, but don’t you owe it to yourself to know the truth?