Recently I journeyed with other Sisters of Mercy who were gathered in McAllen, TX. Some of us were seeing again or for the first time the devastation of already erected sections of a “border wall.” Amy had just entered the Mercy Community as a Candidate and agreed to be our tour guide for a few hours. As we approached the sections of the “wall” I was taken aback by the gasps of others in the van. The wall is tall, with open spaces in between the rungs that are in a “V” formation. The wall stands about 30 feet tall, has a rusty color, and a textured feel to it. The air temperature was about 112 degrees, the sun bearing down on your head and back, the rungs of the wall were hot to the touch. This brought many emotions to me as I reflected on “why do we need this wall?”
The “wall” is not just holding back persons in search of a better quality of life. The “wall” is holding back Mother Nature’s process of nature being able to migrate and replenish itself. All of nature is affected by not being able to come and go across what was once an imaginary line. This means the natural migration of birds, pollens, and other land, water, and air animals can no longer live in their natural habitat. This means that crops and fresh water could be in jeopardy of being negatively affected and possibly snuffed out by building a “wall.”
What are we doing to Mother Earth? I kept thinking about the species that can and will become extinct, contamination of the soil as well as contamination of the fresh water supply. Included are the men, women, and children that have risked their very being to take a chance to escape a life that is in danger. These families take a risk, a risk that I, as a citizen of the United States have not had to experience!
As I watched, a border agent drove an SUV dragging several large used tractor tires behind causing a cloud of dust to form. The tires smooth the dirt and make it easier to see where foot tracks crossed the border. The agents can tell which direction the persons were traveling as well as narrow the timeline to when the crossing was made. I thought about the agents who risk their lives each day to carry out the orders that have been handed down by their superiors. I tried to see a different view, to see through the eyes of one who is trying to provide for their family too. Not all agents are anti-immigrant, pro-wall, persons. Maybe both the agents and the immigrants seek the same thing: to provide a better life for their children. I want to believe that deep within each agent is a heart full of compassion, empathy, and Mercy. If given the chance to change careers, they too would try to find another occupation, possibly a profession that does not cause them to draw specific lines of who can come into this country and who must be removed from this country.
In the end, I come to a conclusion that I need to hold every Earthly creature gently and to not judge those who are following “orders” because I do not know what is in their heart. I do know this land does not belong to you or me, it belongs to God and in God all things are sacred.
Sister Patti Baca, RSM