If you have kept up with the news lately then you know that our President made some unfortunate comments at a recent immigration reform meeting. I am not writing to make any type of political statement or even to discuss specifically what was said (or alluded to) at this particular closed-door meeting. I am not even writing to talk about how incredible this country (Haiti) and its people are because I am pretty sure Jess is going to do that soon. I want to talk about a simple concept that we can easily overlook in an emotional issue like this one and it is the concept of “perspective.” What was President Trump’s perspective when he made these comments concerning Haiti, El Salvador, and some unnamed African countries?
You see, since these comments were made, I have seen Americans split pretty evenly into 3 camps from my limited view on social media:
- Many people were appalled at the words and the callousness with which they were used.
- Almost as many people agreed with the President and said things like, “He is just saying what everyone else is thinking but will not say.”
- Just as many, if not more, don’t really care about the words, they just want to use it to make a political point (either for or against our current President).
What many of us fail to recognize is that the President’s perspective on this issue comes from one of nationalism at the expense of everything else. Nationalism is like anything else in the world, it is a wonderful trait for us to have to a point but it can very easily become an idol. When we put America or our own political affiliation above our relationship with Christ, it is no longer a positive thing. When we begin to believe only good things about our country without realizing there is much that could be better, it is no longer a positive thing. When we begin thinking of other people purely from a political standpoint and forget that they are people, nationalism is no longer a positive thing. You see, at some point, many of us began to believe that to love GOD and follow Christ you had to fall in line with a particular political party. At some point we began to believe that America is a Christian nation and that we are born closer to GOD simply because of where we were born.
The truth is, I am extremely proud to be from America and I love my country very much. I understand (or at least I am beginning to understand) the advantages I have had over the course of my life simply because of the latitude and longitude of my birthplace. At the same time, I could easily rattle off a list of things that are better here in Haiti than they are in America without really even trying. Does Haiti have a history of political struggles, poverty, natural disasters, poor leaders, and other issues that have plagued it? Absolutely. At the same time, does America have a history of violence, racism and slavery, increasingly anti-Biblical social structures, areas of extremely high crime, and other issues that have plagued it? Absolutely. When I am in America I love that I have comfort at my fingertips, easy access to infrastructure (trash pickup, electricity, roads, clean water, etc.), family, and a feeling of safety for my wife and kids. When I am in Haiti I love the friendliness of almost every single person, how hard each person works for pay that every American would scoff at, the sense of community and family in our area, the idea that you help others no matter what, and the beauty of the people and the country.
So my perspective from living both in America and in Haiti is that they both have incredible strengths and equally incredible weaknesses. But my true perspective is one of a Christ-follower rather than a nationalist (Haitian or American). As a follower of Christ, I cannot just follow Him when it is convenient and do my own thing when it is not. I must see every country, every city, every family, and every individual from the perspective that Jesus does and that means there is value every where. A visit to many 3rd world countries, including Haiti, will change your perspective on the world. I am sure that America could teach Haiti quite a bit in the political realm like how to provide electricity to a population, road construction, trash pickup, and how to build and develop a public sector. I am equally certain that Haiti could teach America quite a bit in the social realm like which bathroom men and women should use, whether or not abortion should be legal, what a family meal looks like (spoiler alert: it should not always take place at a restaurant and it should never include an iphone or ipad), and the benefits for children of playing outside. But after saying all of that, only one thing truly matters in this whole discussion…
Do you know and have a relationship with Jesus Christ.
When you do, everything changes including how you feel about other countries, their refugees, and who you want to allow into your country. I would never argue for an open border, that just does not make sense on any level. What I would argue, however, is that a Haitian immigrant has as much potential to help “Make America Great” as anyone else in the world, it just depends on the perspective you have on what it means to be “great.” In my humble opinion, greatness is found in one place and in one person, Jesus Christ.