Prevention programs aren’t sexy. There is great power in the storytelling of the here and now. We love a good story — one in which we can relate. Even more so, we are moved by heart-breaking stories of others that we fear could someday be our own reality. Rightly so, we are left tremendously concerned about the desperation at the U.S.-Mexico border today.
The real problem we have right now is that all of us are stuck at the border. We look at this situation as a large, yet acute, problem of travelers throwing themselves across country lines. Do we allow unaccompanied minors to remain in the U.S.? Do we put up a wall to deter undocumented immigrants? How do we accommodate survival and health? What do we do with those sitting on the border now? Yes, let’s develop and execute a healthy plan to address the urgency of now and for the future of the border, but as long as the focus of our “thoughts and prayers” or “political discussions” remain at the border, this will always be a management issue.
Sometimes I am, what I refer to as, an “obsessive news checker” when it comes to important developing news stories, elections, tragedies, and anything that impacts the dignity of my fellow human beings. I am extremely interested in the lives and histories of public leaders for change, of oppressors and persecutors of injustices. Where did this story really start? What past hurt has been a part of weaving this current story? Where did the motivation to inspire grit and perseverance originate?
No matter where we stand on Sanctuary Cities or Immigration Legislation, we can agree that the realities of the immigrant travelers are harsh. I temporarily turn my eyes away from the direct focus on the border at this time to think about what brought these travelers to this point of sacrificing their very existence in order to take a chance at maybe stepping into a new opportunity. I have met struggling citizens in other undeveloped and oppressed countries. Consider the realities from which they are running. I could help you visualize with dozens of heart-breaking stories mentioned previously.
Feeding the hungry and housing the homeless are needed and good. Rescuing trafficked victims is necessary and noble. Let’s keep doing these things. Yes! This is an absolute must. But as long as that’s ALL we do, these problems will persist with epic proportions. We absolutely should work tirelessly to rescue women and children from slavery who are being treated as a commodity. But until people are not viewed as commodities or objects, traffickers will continue to sell and devalue the next girl who is coming of age.
If we refuse to step into the travelers’ stories before they become travelers, then people will continue to flee their homes. We could toss our hands up and say, “not my problem,” but the reality is it will come around. The perseverance and grit of any mama choosing life for her child finds a way. Oppressors will take advantage of a weakened government or living condition to invade and gain access to resources and regions that create more oppressive control, often aimed at the privileged who they have felt ignored them. Simply ignoring does not hold true but for a moment.
Prevention isn’t sexy, but it’s the only way to bring these travesties to an eventual end. Feeding, adopting, rescuing and harboring refugees are an acute solution to a much larger problem in our world. Our world is broken, but it is also full of hope and goodness and success. Just remember that those stories are harder to share.
It’s hard to tell you of the fantastically motivating stories that didn’t happen, because of successful prevention. I’m not sure how to illustrate the success of avoiding travesty that comes through true transformation. So often, our hearts and our giving come from these motivational stories. Prevention stories don’t seem to motivate us to support in the way a heart-breaking tale might. Prevention isn’t sexy, but it is the actual solution.Let’s not allow us all to be stuck at the borders, and let’s look to engage in global communities in a way that empowers opportunities to survive, thrive, and succeed in their world that still offers dignity. Consider being a part of community transformation both here and there. Consider prevention. Investing globally IS investing locally.
If your business would like to learn about how to step into the immigration crisis, make a stand for human dignity, create cross-cultural connections for leadership, for development, and for prevention, contact me or one of our other community development experts by reaching out at firstname.lastname@example.org.