Those of us who hope to be governed by kindness — meaning that we want kind behavior to guide our decision making — have a job to do. We, the people need to stay diligent. We have a choice to accept authority or to advocate for change, when change is necessary.
Looking at today’s immigration policy, those of us who seek kind behavior, see acute problems that require change in order for us to be a kind community of people. One part of kindness is to keep communities safe. Another part of kindness is to be welcoming to people who need our welcome. Neither one of these is a simple task, met by one strategy alone, but it should be clear that using our nation’s resources to deport people who have been living successfully in the United States for years is unkind, disrupting families and instilling fear in people unnecessarily. We don’t function well when fear is driving our lives. Sometimes fear is unavoidable, but in this case it is not. Our nation should be using its resources to establish more pathways to legal status for immigrants already successfully living in our country, not spending money to ship people back to chaotic, unsafe places, tearing up families in the United States in the process.
As a reminder about the dangers of relying on those in authority to set the rules of our lives, without speaking out, consider how often authority sources don’t get kindness right.
An example I know is the Episcopal Church, which is the faith tradition in which I was raised. The church, sometimes very slowly it seems, has shifted its position on gender and other issues of discrimination, ultimately recognizing earlier church positions were unkind. These shifts in government, in faith organizations, in schools, and other aspects of institutionalized community life get made because people speak out. Sometimes it is people speaking out in fear or greed, something we see much of today, who set the course of change. Always, those who seek a kinder, better world, understanding that kindness often requires bravery, have work to do, helping correct the course by speaking out. Here are some some of the changes, made because people spoke out until they were heard, the Episcopal Church has made, correcting wrongs:
- Before I was born, there were Episcopal bishops who owned slaves.
- When I was a child, females could not be acolytes.
- When I was a young woman, females could not lay-read, much less be ordained.
- When I was a middle-aged woman, the church was working through where it should stand on homosexuality; the church would bless animals, but not bless the marriages of homosexuals.
- When I was an older woman, the church took a stand on transgenders, notifying the Texas legislature if the bathroom bill which would dictate that people use the bathroom of their gender at birth passed, the church would need to consider moving their general convention—10,000 people coming to Austin for about a week, bringing revenue with them, to a more inclusive, welcoming state.
I have seen a lot change in my life. The changes ahead depend on we, the people seeking kindness to be diligent about what outcomes we want, speaking out to politicians who set the rules that govern community life and speaking through the institutions which are part of the fabrics of our daily being.