Thursday, June 14, 2012

Soiling our own nest

Bird cleaning its nest
"Vögel scheißen nicht ins eigene Nest." Growing up, I heard that German saying many times. Roughly translated, "Birds don't soil their own nest."

Sparrows roost above the front entry light at my parents' place. First, you see the head of the mama or papa bird as they guard and turn the eggs. In a few weeks, there is faint cheeping which swells to a daily hunger protest. Soon little heads peek over the sides, pulled back to safety with passersby. Before long, the chicks feather out and fly off.

The nest is constantly cleared, cleaned, and made welcome for the healthy development of the young ones.

Bedouin home
We saw similar cultural habits among the Bedouins who settled in Israel. Their yards may be full of the plastic bags and junk they toss out their windows, but we were told that the inside of the home is spotless. Generations of Bedouins tossed biodegradable items beyond the tent flap, keeping the interiors clean. In the morning, the desert sand and scavengers had taken care of the leftovers. Sadly, the routines remain and the non-biodegradable trash flies around the countryside, captured by fences and shrubs.

The tendency to clean our own nest, not to despoil our surroundings, is cross-cultural. But the longer I live here, the more I learn about our adopted country's counter-intuitive acts. We monitor others but turn a blind eye to ourselves.

Please read this article (click here) and share with fellow readers what feelings this reality stirs up in you. Patriotism? Pride in America? Surprise? Shock? Dismay? Or ? Personalize Anna with your name ... if you were Anna, if Anna were your cousin or your neighbor, would you feel the same, reading this?

View of foreigners by C19 Japanese
It's easy to police other countries. We were horrified by the Holocaust Museum in Israel, where we saw the results of systematic brainwashing: "Jews are subhuman and don't deserve to live or own property in this land. They are leaches who feed off the hard-working people around them." It's so convenient to shake our heads at the Nazis who tried to eliminate an ethnic group. Who among us would act so brutally today, so inhumanely?

I can finally whisper a question to myself, a few weeks after viewing the ungodly hell inflicted by "my people," my ancestors' government. No, my family didn't know what was going on. But how could they and their communities have missed it? I saw judgment in the eyes of students when they found out Waldemar was Polish and I was German. "Our people" had dared to do this to the Jews. It's true. "We" did it, to our eternal shame. But how are my actions different today from my tribe's actions two generations ago?

Today I'm asking the difficult question of you the reader, too. How is the American immigration propaganda and policing different for those desperate ones who came here to raise their kids, eat decent food, and live in safety? We're not just deporting people from the USA. We're letting our government––paid by our taxes––kill them ... while we look away. Read the statistics in this article.  We can justify it any way we like - and know we're not the first in the USA or elsewhere to do so. (Kosovo. Sudan. Nigeria. Uganda. Vietnam: a short list in a longer ongoing travesty.)

We're all from elsewhere else. Some came on land-bridges or boats thousands of years ago and others on ships as recently as 500 years ago. (Buildings are considered young in many countries at that age.) Some of our ancestors found a haven in the United States: they became citizens so we enjoy that privilege, too. Others of us arrived more recently, with Green Cards or citizenship applications in hand.

Ellis Island, NY
Still others would love to integrate. They live desperately "under the radar," working hard, trying to make a go of it because starvation or death are their only options if they remain in their birthplace.

Once again, the Jewish people––through their memorial of our propensity to do nothing, eating and drinking in safety while others perish–– become our conscience and a goad to serve God as fully human as possible. It cost "my people" death to stand up for Jews two generations ago. Am I willing to risk any comforts to help others in similar circumstance?

How can we prove God's love to those seeking refuge near us this week? This month? In our lifetime?

Read more:
*The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him. Exodus 15:2

*Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt. Exodus 22:21

*But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.

He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17 NIV

*Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. 1 Peter 2:10-12

Prayer: Loving Father, thank you for your kindness to us, strangers and aliens in this world. Call us, O God, to demonstrate your mercy and care for others. Let us love the foreigner among us, for you have set us in a strange land and will call us home when we have finished our sojourn here on earth. Amen.

1 comment:

  1. You always, always make me think, Rosemarie. I like you! :) (And yes, love you, too.) Such a good metaphor and a call to rethink how we are treating the ones God has entrusted to us as newer neighbors from afar. Well done, my friend! And God help us to do this right!