Last night I watched a brief clip about a 5 or 6 year old immigrant child re-united with his mother after 4 months of separation. The moderator forewarned that it would be hard to watch, but I was unprepared. The child was lying on a bed with his mother beside him, sobbing with deep wretched sounds. He was telling his mother that they should send him back to “jail” as she no longer loved him and he was unworthy of being with her. The unintelligible words, uttered between sobs, spoke volumes about how he was a heartbroken and traumatized child. It seemed to me that his sobs would never end. Later, when the woman was interviewed, she said her child was unrecognizable to the child that he was only months before. I hardly slept last night for the hole in my heart.
Though this is election day here in the US, and I have no idea of the outcome, rhetoric about the “invading hoard” of immigrants storming toward the southern US border continues and there is still talk of separating children from parents, harsh sentences and retribution for people fleeing poverty, war and violence.
If you pile this onto the already heaping stack of other issues, I feel overwhelmed with the prospect of a future that seems bent on an angry destruction. The destruction of diversity, the right to practice your religious beliefs, the ability for all of us in the US to practice our right to vote without undue hardship, a pushing forward toward ‘growth’ at the cost of the planet we live on and the utter ignorance of the dangerous climate challenge we are facing.
When waters and public lands are now opening up to further oil and gas extractions, exploitation of all our natural resources by mega-corporations seems on the rise with little to no input from the very citizens that will be impacted the most. Earlier this year in April, Nestle was granted a permit in Michigan to increase the amount of water it withdraws from the state’s groundwater table from 250 gallons per minute to 400 gallons. That’s per minute.
Though it is true that Nestle did a comprehensive analysis for water withdrawal, the increase will help generate their $36 million expansion for their “Ice Mountain” brand of water. The outrage is that their permit was only $200.00. Though public comments against this totaled about 81,500 citizens, Nestle was allowed to proceed, contributing to a further reduction in the water table seen by long time, local residents.
The top 3 themes expressed by the public were: corporate greed vs. people & the environment, water is not for profit and worries about privatizing water. The water supervisor commented, “We don’t have the power to say no arbitrarily. We can’t just say no for reasons that aren’t attached to the law.” In other words, they can’t say no, even if the majority of the public wants them to because their concerns aren’t written into a law. That means we have to enact laws that see the ‘commons’, water, air, earth, as having rights.
Though there are many injustices and problems of epic proportion that face us all, my heartbreak comes from the ability of so many of us at the ground level, to make any difference. I am unable to soothe a mother and child that will likely face years of trauma because of decisions made by radical lawmakers. I can speak about the devastating impact of climate change on women and children and watch it fall on deaf or bored ears. We can challenge the rights of oil companies to drill on public and indigenous lands and be faced with militarized action against our peaceful protests. I can sign petitions of protest about the way that our lawmakers handle the immigration crisis here in the US and then watch as our military deploys to put up razor wire on our borders.
Yes, today, my heart is on the ground. But I know that I must pick it up with care once again, cradle and love it back to wholeness so that I can pick up my pen, use my voice to stand against the absence of the sacred. I’m not sure a louder NO will be the antidote, but after watching the aftermath of a very young child’s separation from his mother and his wretched sobs, I know I won’t give up. Yes my heart is on the ground, as it is most days, but I have to believe that the sacred will win out.