When hundreds of thousands of protesters poured into the streets Monday - many of whom were immigrants - it underscored how passionately and how deeply feelings run on this complex issue.
Not that an issue so vividly in our face - at least here in Southern California, where I live - needs underscoring. Eleven million illegal immigrants, most of them from Mexico, aren't about to evaporate. What to do? What rights do they deserve? Can those rights be protected in ways that don't unfairly infringe on the rights of citizens and legal immigrants? How can the costs and the benefits of having undocumented foreign workers here be best managed? A host of thorny issues confront lawmakers and citizens.
I'm not pushing a political agenda one way or the other. It's actually easy not to: Listen to both sides and you'll quickly notice they voice very genuine, legitimate, and heartfelt concerns. It's easy to empathize with both sets of concerns.
Maybe it's not so easy to see answers that are sensitive to all parties. So, I ask myself, even if one doesn't push a political agenda, what can one do?
What about a prayer agenda? Wouldn't that make a positive difference, at least in some small degree? I've seen, more times than I can count, that turning humbly to the Almighty tends to disclose healing solutions for even the toughest problems.
So I turn to the Bible.
I recall that in one sense the Scriptures can be viewed as a collection of immigrant stories. The children of Israel, led by Moses for those many years on their quest to reach the Promised Land, were the newcomers, the outsiders. Are the troubles they faced and the prayer-based solutions they found relevant to our needs today? I think so. I think their examples, their victories, and defeats, can enlighten us.
Sure, it would be easy, and an abuse of the Scriptures, I believe, to say they make the case for Side A, or for Side B. After all, you can find examples in the Bible where friction between different groups was alleviated by their parting company and going separate ways. You can also find examples of peaceful coexist- ence.
No, I think the real advantage of turning to the Bible is that it lifts our outlook. It helps us see from a more spiritual perspective. And that, in turn, helps us uncover inspired and innovative solutions.
Consider the Old Testament book of Malachi. It says, "Have we not all one father? Hath not one God created us?" (2:10). Doesn't this underscore the basis for the needed solutions? The one heavenly Father is, without exception, the Creator of us all.
Since we all have the same Father, we all share the same spiritual heritage, regardless of any ethnic, language, or religious differences. Turning to that Father - who is also the one divine and infinite Mind - opens new views, unexpected healing approaches.
The passage from Malachi doesn't end with the two questions already quoted. It goes on, "Why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother by profaning the covenant of our fathers?" The author implies that the treacherous dealing with one another is needless, a thing that can be avoided. Especially when one grasps more of what it means for us to all have the same Father, Creator, and Mind.
Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy wrote in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures": "With one Father, even God, the whole family of man would be brethren; and with one Mind and that God, or good, the brotherhood of man would consist of Love and Truth, and have unity of Principle and spiritual power which constitute divine Science" (pp. 469-470).
As I ponder the Scriptures in the light of this passage, the questions surrounding the issue of immigrants don't seem so intractable. Answers sensitive to an array of concerns seem more within reach. I realize my prayer can have clear focus and can contribute to healing solutions. I resolve to make that contribution.