Is America filled to capacity or just selective regarding who we can house? Is there fear of becoming outnumbered by foreign guests and those who don’t look like us? And who is this us?
I lived in Atlanta for seven years as a missionary working on the historical Black campuses of the Atlanta University Center, while doing so I also had a side gig working as a telephone operator at one of Atlanta’s major hotels, the Atlanta Hilton and Towers. It was the spot where a lot of entertainers and professional athletes stayed while in town. No doubt, there was always a room available.
However, if the average person turned up on a busy event weekend, there was a good chance they would be turned away with the words, “Sorry, no vacancy.”
Occupancy can be very selective based on clout. Is America any different? Do we not relax our stipulations when the “right type” of person seeks admittance? We never hear terms such as, having our borders being “invaded” by Europeans or folks coming from the northern border. No, we reserve those terms for brown-skinned immigrants from (as Trump puts it) the sh@thole countries.
When we move into a mentality of stark tribalism, where we exclude non-tribesmen, we cheat ourselves out of a more productive perspective and the gifts and talents that come from a broader base. It can be much like trying to bake a cake with only one ingredient or having a potluck dinner where everyone brings the same dish. We thereby deny ourselves our full potential as a diverse society.
Such perspectives indicate a tremendous amount of fear and insecurity. The irony is, if we were to see ourselves as a part of a larger community, we could all benefit so much more.
King Herod recognized the power of the Christ child even as He was an infant, “Kill Him before He grows,” was his instruction. Jesus was a threat to the status quo even as a baby. He had an undeniable future and destiny which if allowed to manifest fully, would literally change the world.
Our collective unification also poses a threat to the status quo of wealth and power. It is the real reason behind racism/white supremacy established following Bacon’s Rebellion to prevent the masses from ever reuniting against the power structure.
Even more ironic, if Herod had gotten with the program and submitted to the higher power, he would have benefited in the end. Instead, his rebellion was his ultimate undoing and downfall in the bigger scheme of things. Sometimes we can be so set on holding onto something we think has such value that we actually miss out by being blind, deaf, and dumb to what has true meaning and value.
By shutting our doors and claiming no vacancy, we are essentially saying that we have no room for progress, no room for growth, and change, no room for justice, and equality, no room for beneficial unification, and no room for the Love of Christ. There is simply no room in the Inn.
This is not to say that we should forego border control, only that we must be fair and consistent with its implementation and be non-hypocritical regarding how non-enslaved immigrants arrived on the shores of America.
Some impoverished European immigrants came as indentured servants to repay a debt for a shot at the American dream. This arrangement typically had a time cap of 7 years and did not involve the legalized dismissal of human rights and being recast as property, as was the case for those deemed Chattel slaves brought to America against their will in the holds of slave ships packed like sardines.
What was an American dream for some was an American nightmare for others. No, we do not all share the same American experience.
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore,” reads the inscription of the Statute of Liberty welcoming immigrants in the New York harbor. But do we still have vacancies? Or are the rooms only available to certain folks?
Only the original inhabitants of this land can claim rightful residence. Others either forced their way in or were forced in. Now it seems that the descendants of many of the European immigrants and even some of the descendants of the enslaved take the attitude, now that I got mine, I am closing the door behind me and determining who else can get theirs. How unfortunate!
There have always been unsavory folks getting into America from all across the planet. People are people, both good and bad. We can’t sit back and paint everyone with a broad stroke based on their place of origin. The original folks from European lands are guilty of breaking and entering, engaged in massive genocide of the Native inhabitants, and betraying their trust and goodwill.
So where is Jesus in all of this? What have we learned or have yet to learn? I would imagine that if a brown-skinned Jesus showed up at the southern border, He might just be told to get in line or go back to His own “3rd world” country. He would be a poor homeless immigrant. While birds had their nests, and foxes had their holes, the Son of man had no place to lay his Head. Would this nation offer Him one? Would we find Him a room in the Inn?
Just like Jesus, we can also ask ourselves the question, do we have room in the Inn in our own hearts for “outsiders?”
By Tobias Houpe