When I was about eighteen months old, my parents dropped me off at a Catholic nunnery for about two weeks. My sister was about to be born, there were complications, and my Grandparents (they thought) had enough on their hands with my rambunctious brother. My father would come and visit me every day – I don’t know if that helped or hurt, since he would also leave without me every day – until my sister was born and they brought me home.
About twenty years later, in my first year of law school, I had one too many hash brownies at a party. I went to bed and then woke up in a complete panic. I was so panicked that I went upstairs to my friends Gabi and Günther’s room and asked if I could stay up there for the rest of the night. That was the kick-off to a period where I regularly had anxiety attacks, which it took me a number of years to get over.
Sometime during that process of calming down my mother told me the story of having dropped me off at the nunnery, an event I had absolutely no recollection of, but which I recognized immediately.
Aha! That was the panic that I had been experiencing.
I’ve worked through this over the years, but there is one lingering symptom left: when I travel overseas, I’m always conscious of being very far away from home. It doesn’t prevent me from traveling overseas, but it can make the experience of it less exuberant. There is a part of me that always has to fight with myself, reminding me that I’m an adult and that I would be no safer if I were back at home.
I’ve been thinking about this while reading the stories of the asylum-seeking children being ripped away from their parents at the U.S. border.
There’s unnecessary trauma being created for thousands of them, on top of whatever trauma was already in play that motivated their families to go on the run in the first place.
This action of ripping children out of the arms of their parents has created a storm of outrage, including by (the rarely heard from) Laura Bush, who authored and op-ed for the Washington Post, and (remarkably enough) Melania Trump, who joined in with Laura Bush (and proved once again that she has absolutely no influence on her husband whatsoever).
In the meantime, Jeff Sessions went before the press to quote the Apostle Paul for the notion that it is Godly to “obey the laws,” a sentiment which Sarah “Huckster” Sanders immediately endorsed with her own Biblical quotations.
This is what happens when you allow people to cherry-pick verses from the Bible. You can find a verse for almost any sentiment.
I’m no Jesus scholar, but it’s my understanding that Jesus was much more concerned with welcoming strangers, lifting up the downtrodden, and sheltering the oppressed. He was, I’m told, no fan of obedience to the Roman empire.
To cherry-pick just one verse of my own:
|Deuteronomy 10:18-19 – “For the Lord your God…loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”|
And yet, while large majorities of Americans disapprove of this heartless policy, a clear majority of Republicans approve of the policy.
There is a large and growing number of Republicans who are going to have to wrestle with their legacy and what they approved of once the Trump years are over. Many of them will discover that whatever moral “cachet” they once had (or were seen as having) has been pissed away in their support of this extraordinarily malicious “President” they so claim to adore.
 Let me be the first to admit that I’m not the most courageous person to begin with, and I might have developed anxiety attacks for other reasons. But this was the trigger in my case.
 I’ll just add the obvious observation that if Republicans really wanted to keep people from streaming to the border, we here in the United States could do a lot more to improve conditions in countries like El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. People don’t undertake journeys like these unless they are completely desperate and at their wits end.