Immigration justice work is complex. We Unitarian Universalists sometimes think that we have the solutions to complex problems, that we know how to make things right. But our belief in a free and responsible search for truth and meaning implies that there is always more we can learn and additional layers of meaning to uncover. Can we find a multigenerational approach to justice work that focuses not just on solutions to complex problems, but also gives us opportunities to reflect on, and be affected by, the work we do? As we do justice work in our congregations, we need to help one another keep open hearts and be willing to be changed by what we learn, what we see, and what we experience.
It’s not sufficient to study the facts of the issue. Facts engage our minds, but that’s only a part of the picture. It’s not sufficient to tell the stories of those who come to this country and then struggle with the language, underemployment, access to housing and education for their children, prejudice. Stories engage our emotions, but that’s only part of the picture. In our congregations, we must engage in theological reflection to engage our hearts.
Are children and youth capable of doing theological reflection? I think so. In 2003, the Institute for American Values published a report by the Commission on Children at Risk. The report said: “… a less definitive but still significant body of evidence suggests that we are hardwired for meaning, born with a built-in capacity and drive to search for purpose and reflect on life’s ultimate ends.” The report suggested that an answer to this crisis of children at risk might be found in “authoritative communities…groups of people who are committed to one another over time and who model and pass on at least part of what it means to be a good person and live a good life.” Our churches and families can be authoritative communities, offering people of all ages opportunities to reflect together on issues of meaning and purpose, including immigration justice. (more…)