They Are All Our Children

Remarks at Rally Together Birmingham
By Rev. Angie Wright
May 20, 2017

This gathering was inspired in the midst of threats against the Jewish Community Center by parents who do not want their children to suffer or live in fear.

It’s a beautiful and sacred thing when God takes something so ugly and uses it to bring about something so lovely. There is nothing so lovely as God’s children coming together in love and unity. Can’t you just feel and see the absolute loveliness of this moment?

Jewish parents do not want their children to suffer or live in fear. And so they reached out to us, because they knew that we don’t want their children or our children to suffer or live in fear.

We don’t any children to suffer or live in fear, because we know the truth: That all children are our children — not just the ones we gave birth to, not just the ones we know and love even when they drive us crazy and break our hearts, not just the ones that we passed our religion down to, not just the ones that look and think like us and walk the same paths that we walk.

All children are all of our children and none deserve to suffer or live in fear.

Not even children of the people who call our people enemy. Not even the children who our people call enemy. Even those children belong to us. We don’t want them to suffer or live in fear.

Any parent would give anything and do everything they could to ensure that their child does not suffer or live in fear. Wouldn’t you? I know I would. Indeed, some of us have.

If we know that all children are our children, wouldn’t we give anything and do everything we could to ensure that they don’t suffer or live in fear?

When we see a child hungry in a refugee camp or fleeing war and violence, do we see that child as our child? Do we see their parents as ourselves?

When we see a black child left to bleed out on the sidewalk shot by a gun intended to protect them, do we see that child as our child? Do we see their parents as ourselves?

When we heard the cries of immigrant children terrified that their parents won’t make it home at night, do we see those children as ours? Do we see their parents as ourselves?

When we hear the pain of Jewish children evacuated time and again from their day school by a bomb threat, their innocence and sense of safety shattered, do we see those children as ours? Do we see their parents as ourselves?

When we hear the pain of Muslim children harassed and humiliated and threatened by the ignorance of other children taught to hate them, do we see those children as ours? Do we also see the bullies as our children? Do we see their parents as ourselves?

When we hear the terrible pain experienced by LGBTQ and gender nonconforming children bullied and harassed to the point of taking their own lives, do we see them as our children? Do we see their parents as ourselves?

Anything that prevents you from seeing every child as your child and a precious child of God is a creation of man. It is not of God.

Anything that prevents you from feeling the humanity of their parents, even those you believe are against you, is a creation of man. It is not of God.

We need to hear each other’s stories with open hearts and minds until we see every child as ours and their parents as ourselves.

Have you opened your hearts and minds to hear the stories of black parents whose 16-year-old children, instead of being thrilled to have a driver’s license, are afraid to drive themselves to work in fear that an encounter with the police could end their lives?

Have you opened your hearts and minds to hear the stories of parents of poor children who suffer and live in fear and want every day?

Have you opened your hearts and minds to hear the stories of immigrant parents who have risked and sacrificed everything in the hope that their children will not suffer or live in fear? And yet their children suffer and live in fear every single day that they will come home from school to find that their parents have been detained and are gone forever.

Hear it from the mouth of babes:

Dear Governor,

We don’t want the new law, all my friends have left and my mom, she can’t take us to the doctor appointments because the law, she’s scared because the law. My mom cries all the time because the law. I don’t want my parents took away. I have happy life in Albertville. All my teachers are crying because we have to leave. I don’t want to leave.

Block the law please. Please don’t separate my family. If you take me to Mexico they will kill me. Who is going take care of me if you take my parents?

Why did you put the law? … I’m scared because the police got my parents or family and I’m going to stay by myself in the house. If your parents are immigrants and you are not, what will happen to you?

I am 10 years old, 5th grade. I’m so scared about this law. I was an A/B honor girl but not any more because I’m making bad grades because I can’t stop thinking about my mom. My mom always came home late from work but I think the cops took her away from me. Please stop this law because I worry. Please stop this law. Ps. Sometimes I don’t concentrate in school

Don’t take my parents, my parents are good people. I do not want to separate from my friends. I’m a good little girl

If we hear the cries of children who suffer and live in fear every day and fail to see them as our children and fail to see their parents as ourselves, it’s our loss and the world’s loss. I believe it brings tears to the eyes of God.

Jewish parents want the same things for their children that Muslim parents want for their children. Black parents want the same things for their children that white parents want for their children. LGBTQ parents want the same thing for their children that straight parents want. Immigrant parents want the same thing for their children that native-born want.

At the very least we all share the hope for our children that they will not suffer or live in fear.

Sometimes it is our religions that blind us to the humanity of others. Sometimes it is the insulation of our communities. Sometimes it is what we have been taught by our families or led to believe by our politicians. Much of the time our prejudices are fueled by the images we inhale from the media like air.

How can anyone say to our children that they are children of Satan?

How can anyone tell our children that they have less humanity and value than others?

How can anyone convince us that by the accident of birth that defined our religion, our nationality, our skin color, how can anyone convince us that we are not all equally made in the image of God?

Our faith traditions tell us this: That we are to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, lest we become as intolerant and hateful as they.

And as I often remind couples when they are getting married, love is not a feeling, it’s an action. It’s what we do no matter how we feel. It’s a way of life.

An act of love is to get out of your comfort zone, meet the people who are most foreign to you, the people who scare you the most. Walk and work with them side by side until you find your shared humanity.

This is the work we need to do as individuals, as a community: to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. This is our sacred work.