“O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
(Francis Scott Key, 1779 – 1843; Star Spangled Banner)
No. It does not. It used to do that. But not any longer. At least for now. The flag still waves. You can see it any day of the week flying above many supermarket parking lots, post offices, cemeteries, and many other locations, including migrant detention centers.
The flag still waves, but as long as people are being held in detention centers in inhumane conditions, as long as children are forcibly separated from their parents, as long as they are made to sleep on concrete floors, cannot wash themselves regularly, and are at the mercy of people, some of whom hold them in contempt, as long as this is so then this is not the ‘land of the free.’
The flag still waves, but as long as people are afraid of poor people who are seeking refuge, as long as people are afraid of little brown children who speak a language other than English, as long as people are afraid of others who are different than themselves and take terrible actions to “protect” themselves from these “dangerous” children, women and men, then this is not the ‘home of the brave.’
The flag still waves but it does not fly over a land of the free and the brave.
When we look “o’er the ramparts” what do we see?
We are in a ‘perilous fight.’ The fight will not be won by taking up arms against one another. It can only be won by not succumbing to the spirit of our time that seeks to divide neighbor from neighbor and then to turn neighbor against neighbor.
Rather we are to turn away from that spirit and learn a different way. We are to pray for guidance and worship God not power, wealth or celebrity. We are to bless, empower those who are without a voice. We are to go, to leave the places of comfort and dare to build positive relationships with those with whom we differ. And we are to do all that we can to be a people of love and then to rest God who is the source of love.
We must take action, but action that is not motivated by fear, hate or selfishness. We must take action that is motivated by love, empowered by the source of love and most perfectly manifested in Jesus.”
– The Rt. Rev. Scott B. Hayashi
To find resources for those who are threatened by ICE, click here.