Monday, September 22, 2008

water in the desert

I visited an episcopalian church yesterday (I may talk more about the service in a different post- for now I'll just say "it was nice"). My first impression came when parking my car in front of the building. In a prominent position in front of the church there was a blue barrel with the accompanying blue flag on top of a long pole. If you are not from Tucson Az, you may not know that this means. It means this church supports the Humane Borders effort to keep people from dying in the desert as they try to cross from Mexico to America. Hundreds die every summer. Men women and children. Old and young. Those blue barrels are placed in the desert to provide water for those crossing, to try to prevent as many deaths as possible. Many Tucsonians hate this effort at assisting immigrants, feel this is an invitation to those "illegals", those "aliens" (they never refer to them as human beings). They go out and punch holes in the water barrels, break off the tall pole with the blue flag that helps crossers find the water.
My staunchly LDS family hates those blue water barrels, are strongly supportive of the vandals who go out and sabotage the water stations. It is not entirely fair, using my family as a measuring stick for The Church's immigration stance. On the books I believe the church is much more neutral (even compassionate) about the immigration issue. But there are no blue barrels in front of any LDS chapels in Tucson. Instead, one state over, enormous financial support is collected to defeat same sex marriage in California.

I support blue water barrels. Giving water to the thirsty in the desert.


adam said...

Wow. Where are we taught to withhold water from anyone, even a so-called "alien".

For the record, my staunchly LDS parents attend the spanish speaking ward, occasionally pay rent for these people, and my father even solicited some funds as a bishop in a church meeting for a teenage girl to pay off the border patrol, so she could be with her parents in the states.

I don't know where the disconnect is. Marlin Jensen of the 70, on a special assignment from the 1st presidency, spoke with the legislature in Utah about treating these people more humanely and with more compassion. Who is our neighbor? Only those that have a visa?

G said...

thank you adam, it warmed my heart to hear that not all LDS have such a dangerous disconnect between issues and human beings.

and really... I do think my own family is on the more extreme sides of things, I believe (hope) that the majority of church members have a much more compassionate take on the subject.

My family's politics tend to be on the very far right which occasionally puts them beyond the The Church's own stances.

however, I do wish the church was as actively involved in this local humanitarian crisis as it is the the local politics of California.

Numismatist Facts said...

Until a few years ago we owned a home that was next to BLM land in AZ and was a major crossing point. In eight years we had no problems with those on their way north to find work. Whenever possible they were given food, water, occasionally some cash and always best wishes.

However, the Border Patrol was a different story. They caused all kinds of havoc! I do miss the lands down south.

I always cringe when I hear people in Utah complain about the immigrants, illegal or otherwise. They forget (or choose to ignore) the bloody history of the land that they live on.

Marlin Jensen is awesome.

G said...

numismatists facts, yes.
have you heard of the minuetmen volunteer patrol?
that concept scares me. especially with this issue being has heated as it is.

emily said...

i'm a bit teary here... Amen to water in the deserts. I didn't know about the blue barrels, but wow and yay for them.

love ya!

G said...

thanks, e, I love you too!

Heart and Mind said...

I wasn't aware of the meaning of Blue Barrels in AZ, but that is really amazing.
I love that this church makes this statement so publicly.
(by the way, this is ellen. sorry for the blog/profile change)

Bree said...

I moved to Arizona about a year ago and the extremely conservative politics, racism and general lack of humanity here make me sick. Especially at church. It boggles the mind that those who claim to set Christ in the center of their lives can't exhibit any sort of charity for people who differ from them in the least.

Being in Arizona has really exacerbated my crisis of faith and I've found your list of "things that have helped" very helpful. Especially now that Sunday School and RS center around "yes on 102". Grrr. Thanks for your thoughtful posts.

G said...

hi ellen/heart and mind (thanks for the update!)

and thank you bree. I wish you well. what part of az are you in?
(I keep that list, mostly so I can have easy access to the posts, etc... that have really helped to clarify my feelings. glad it helped you too!)

Chandelle said...

I haven't heard about the Blue Barrels specifically but I was aware of some efforts being made on behalf of people dying in the desert. It's very sad but I used to be very vocally racist and anti-immigrant and -immigration. That was the climate I grew up in there in AZ. My parents are probably around your parents' spot on the spectrum, G. They fully support the Minutemen, think they are awesome, want a high wall and folks shot on site, and have even joked-but-not-really about setting land mines around that wall. Giving "those people" water? Absolutely not!