Together in Spirit

Browsing From the Desk of Fr. Mike

The Eclipse & Belonging to one Nation

Aug 28, 2017

The ECLIPSE, the ECLIPSE! Man, that story got old by the minute on Monday morning. I was so glad that our sky turned too cloudy to see the sun so that I was exonerated from having to go outside to see IT. I think it was a great distraction from our national pain and since it was known about for years; the networks had plenty of time to prepare to report this celestial event. I wonder how long we will continue to talk about our national pain. I hope it goes on for a long time. There are so many perspectives that none of us really can master since we are all too comfortable in our own skins.  

One of the great graces of my life was to work with the Karenni refuges who arrived in Saint Paul starting in 2009.They came with different skin color and language. They were leaving a refugee camp in Thailand that provided the barest of necessities for them and were coming into a society that they could not imagine. Most would complain about losing their minds in the first six months of living here. Everything was so different. Gradually they began to remaster their lives and once again provide for their families. At almost every corner of their new life here they were met by complainers who worried that they would take all the jobs and that they would use up all the benefits that the county provided. The complainers asked them and anyone else who listened why they came here when they could not speak English. (Most of the complainers either did not remember or ever knew that their immigrant German ancestors also could not speak English when they arrived.) For some reason, although America should have provided an economic future for their families, our complainers did not think it right that these "new comers" get the same opportunities.  

This is just one sense of perspective as we examine ourselves as a nation of mixed heritage. Black Lives Matter is another perspective of living with different skin color in the midst of a changing culture. There is also a whole Latino perspective that has to be taken into account in this dialogue of our national future. Charlottesville was a stunning moment in this dialogue in that it resulted in a death and no real resolution of the racial and cultural issues that we have. It seems that the only way that we are going to get past the violence is to begin talking with each other as persons of the same nation. At one point in my "civics" classes in high school we pondered America, the great melting pot of the many different societies throughout the world. At that time there was not as many immigrants flooding our shores (this was the 70's) and many of us were second or third generation immigrants. I hope we can once again focus on this aspect of the American society and trust that our common heritage will open ways for us to have mutual dialogues with every part of our American culture. 

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