In 1942, over 120,000 people of a particular ancestry were incarcerated in concentration camps. Men, women, children, and babies were yanked from their homes, jobs, schools, and families with only what they could carry and were assigned to barracks with tar-papered walls and straw-stuffed bedding. Families were assigned numbers that they had to keep on their clothing at all times. Barbed wire and guard towers with sentries, who were stationed with firearms, surrounded the encampments. These families suffered significant economic losses and experienced extreme psychological traumas. Some died because of inadequate medical care and from the emotional stress, and some were killed by military guards for allegedly resisting orders.
The Holocaust? No. This happened in our very own country…America! After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, President Roosevelt issued an Executive Order to round up all Japanese, most of who were American citizens or had permanent legal status, and put them all in guarded camps. These Americans, half of whom were children, were kept in these camps without due process of law for up to four years. It was later proven that not one Japanese American or non-American had engaged in any kind of espionage or act of sabotage, but instead, this act was “motivated largely by racial prejudice, wartime hysteria, and a failure of political leadership."
Could this happen in our country again? At one time, Justice Antonin Scalia told the University of Hawaii law students, “You are kidding yourself if you think the same thing will not happen again. In times of war, the laws fall silent.”
Why am I writing about this? People call our country a Christian nation, but to me, treating people like this is anything but Christian. We’re already seeing some politicians, religious leaders, and others propagating fear and violence towards others they see as different and they’re already talking about getting rid of certain groups of people. I definitely do not mean for this to be a political article; instead, I am speaking about our humanity, who we are as human/spiritual beings, and what definition we give to the term Christianity. This is NOT the Christianity, nor the America, that I believe in!
As Christians, we need to decide if we are really following the teachings of Jesus or the egotistical powers of men. Jesus made it very clear that we are to love one another and he made no exceptions. He also said that we will know his followers by how much we love one another. I am certainly not seeing this love in many of those who claim to be Christians. Instead, in them I am only seeing the propagation of fear, violence, hate, and wanting to harm so many beautiful children of God just because of any perceived differences.
My heart goes out to all those who are facing so much hatred and violence, especially Muslims, people of color, immigrants, those in the LGBT communities, and many others. I cannot imagine the fear and insecurity they are feeling not knowing what their future may hold. At some point, this could be any one of us for any reason.
I recently saw a post on Facebook with a picture of Jesus saying, “I was thinking about coming back, but when I saw how much my followers hate brown-skinned, non-English speaking, Middle Eastern immigrants, I thought they might crucify me again, so I changed my mind.” I’m sure many found it offensive, but in reality, it makes a point. (To be clear, not all Jesus’ followers feel this way. There are many more who do not.)
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 states, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” THIS is the Christianity I believe in, this is the love that Jesus taught, and this is the love that should be lived by example and not be forced on anyone.
It is said that united we stand, divided we fall. I believe that love will prevail, and it is my dream that we will come together to unite in the light of love and to embrace all of God’s children as our brothers and sisters. Mother Teresa stated, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”
In the meantime, I will continue to hold all people, as well as our beautiful, magnificent world, in loving consciousness, and seeing us united in love, peace, and harmony. And so it is!
Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper February 26, 2016.