By Lana Turnbull
“It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.” ~ The Velvetine Rabbit
The beloved book, The Velvetine Rabbit, has delighted children around the world since it was first published in 1958. That’s 60 years of love, and if you ascribe to the rabbit’s philosophy, that’s more than enough time to become Real. It’s a story that has always touched my heart because I truly believed my dolls and bears were Real, loved me and had feelings that could be hurt if I was unequal in the attention I paid them. I also felt very sure they knew I REALLY loved them back.
I’m writing today with a sad heart. I’m thinking about children on our southern border and all around the country who aren’t with their parents tonight, who don’t know when they will see them again, or even where they are. I’m not going to try to simplify the weighty issues of immigration, judge who started it, who made it worse or how the entire matter should be settled. I just know that in America, we have always welcomed immigrants who were coming to our country, whether fleeing tyranny like the first settlers or coming to find work so they could give their children a better life. We’ve always found a way to balance the need to protect our citizens from those coming to our shores who would do us harm and still welcome those who would enrich our society with their contributions. We are all immigrants except for the indigenous people, many of whom unselfishly welcomed us, until we took their land and moved them to reservations.
Children, like velvetine rabbits don’t just need a roof, a bed, three meals and a shower. They need the human touch. They need the comfort of their mother or father. They need the security of knowing they are not alone. They need love. Without it the development of their brains and their body’s can be stunted, sometimes irreparably.
I am praying that by the time this issue comes out, the crisis at the boarder will be resolved, the children will be with their parents, and our elected representatives will have found a way to work together to provide a humane and rational solution to the long-standing problem of immigration. I am also praying that if the children have not been reunited with their parents, all the people of good conscience in this country will make their voices heard loudly and strongly.
We are not a nation of cruelty. We are a nation of kindness. We are a nation of laws, but we can also be a nation of compassion. We have got to love our neighbors, not just when it’s convenient. Not just when somebody is watching. Really love them. In doing that, in reaching out and standing up for ‘the least of these,’ especially the little children, we too can become Real. REAL AMERICANS.