Since the news came out about President Trump’s actions on DACA less than a week ago, my heart has been reeling from witnessing human dignity and rights of individuals so easily dismissed. I wanted to shout the line from yesterday’s second reading from Romans: “…and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this saying, namely, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ to anyone who would listen.” (Romans 13: 9) How can we not see DACA recipients who have been living, learning, and working alongside us their entire adult lives as our neighbors?
But many of us may have friends or family for whom the idea of seeing a DACA recipient as their neighbor in the way that Christ calls would be challenging. These might be the same family members we tense up around at holidays or friends with whom we change the subject when topics turn to politics, race, or other social justice issues. We might find ourselves assuming that they are beyond persuading—that it’s not worth the emotional time and effort.
Ezekiel lets us know that we are responsible for the care of each other’s souls. When the people we care about are espousing opinions or ideas drenched in hate or rooted in the sin of racism, we are called to love and care enough about them as people to dialogue directly with them. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells us to go directly to the people we may be in conflict with, be honest about what we think and feel, and see if it changes their hearts. We root our call to justice in our own relationships.
But also, perhaps more importantly, we have these conversations so our brothers and sisters on the margins don’t have to. We can shoulder some of the emotional burden that people of color, DACA recipients, and other oppressed folks experience every day. We can have conversations with family, friends, and community members that might be challenging and difficult and potentially be less at risk for being further labeled in ways our marginalized brothers and sisters wouldn’t. If you’re like me, every day you benefit from white supremacy even though you never asked to and it’s the antithesis of everything you believe in.
So every day, challenge yourself to reach out to those in your life whose actions and words don’t reflect that Kingdom Christ sought to create. Choose to have the hard conversations, to stay in relationships with those people, and hope to help them see that we are all neighbors.
Dr. Susan Haarman is the associate director at Loyola University Chicago’s Center for Engaged Learning, Teaching, and Scholarship where she facilitates faculty development and the university’s service-learning program. She has degrees from Marquette University, Loyola University of Chicago, and the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley, and previously served as the faith and justice campus minister and ran service immersions. In addition to having a Ph.D. in Cultural and Educational Policy Studies, she holds a Master’s in Divinity, a Master’s in Community Counseling, a certificate in directing the 19th Annotation of the Spiritual Exercises, and is a licensed therapist. Her research focuses on the intersection between social justice education, community-based learning, civic identity, and imagination. She is also an improviser and a storyteller. She plans to spend Pride trying to talk her girlfriend into finally watching D.E.B.S.