Monday, June 11, 2007

To Build a Wall, Or Not!

Today is the 20th anniversary of Ronald Reagan's powerful speech at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, the moment when he said firmly, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" Ironically, today, some in our nation are demanding that a wall be built on our southern border.

The subjects of immigration and the status of millions of illegal aliens are sensitive and much debated these days. There are two extremes: on the one side are those who advocate an open border, with little done to thwart continued migration into America from other places, and nothing done to those who came here unlawfully; on the other side are those who demand that a wall be built from San Diego to El Paso and that every effort be made to punish and deport the millions of illegals who are already in our country. Put me in the middle of the debate . . . avoiding both extremes.

America is a land of immigrants. Trace our family trees far enough back, and we (rather, our ancestors) all "originated" from someplace on this globe other than the length and breadth of the United States. Yes many, if not most, came to these shores through "orthodox" ("legal" seems too restrictive) ways. But, at the risk of being accused of being "Politically Correct," who was present to stamp the visas of the earliest arrivals in this land?

To build a wall, literal or figurative, seems un-American to me. Certainly, there needs to be some control of the borders (we live in a dangerous world, after all), and there needs to be a process to welcome and assimilate those who wish to come to our country, but to build a wall . . . well, that reminds me of Berlin . . . of communism . . . of the Soviet state. Yes, I acknowledge, the Berlin Wall was built to keep a totalitarian society's citizens in (to prevent their escaping), whereas a wall built between America and Mexico is meant to keep others out. Different functions, for sure, but a wall stands nonetheless.

There is no easy answer to the problem of immigration and of the millions who are here undocumented and in the shadows. It seems to me, however, that a well-thoughtout and -intentioned process of welcoming and assimilating is best. A wall can only stand for so long before it crumbles (more so in the sense of wideing separation and deepening resentment than physical decay).

I have rambled, and I doubt that my thoughts have made any sense, but my primary interest in this debate is this: I want the Gospel of Christ to be served and opportunities for evangelism to be as prolific as they can. It would seem to be that the absence of a wall (literally and figuratively) would be more friendly to this aim.