There are four walls that make my home. There are doors with locks in three of them. I have a wonderful fence that Jules and I worked very hard to build to keep our kitties safe.
I used to leave my car unlocked in the driveway with my bag inside. Three times, said bag was stolen. I know, I should have learned after the first time, but I was naïve and live in a lovely subdivision where we all wave to one another and keep an eye on each other and the children, I didn't think I had anything to worry about. Even the second time I was surprised. The third time the deputy scolded me and I had to take off the rose colored glasses and get serious about protecting what is important.
Over the years I have picked up strangers who needed a ride. Paid an enormous vet bill for a couple who lived under the Rappahannock River bridge. Took Walking Joe and his dog to a motel and paid for them to stay safe through a winter storm with food and shelter. I rarely passed a panhandler without offering money for a meal. I gave to lots of charities and shelters and have adopted nine cats and two dogs over the years. I always believed that if we are blessed, we share the blessings.
BUT... Every stranger who needs a ride isn't safe. Helping people who, for whatever reason, choose to live under the bridge and are unable to provide follow up care, will come back for help when infection sets it and safe shelter has been refused. At 72 Walking Joe had crossed the United States with Cocoa, talking to Angels, trying to understand why his wife and daughter had been killed, but he checked out of his motel early, in an ice storm, and took the money to walk on to North Carolina.
And when you give twenty dollars to a panhandler on your way into the mall only to be berated and chastised for not offering more on the way out... well you start to get jaded. I started to wonder who I was really helping. Wanting to believe I was doing something kind, even noble... I convinced myself, while I was waiting in the 7-11 parking lot, for the gentleman from under the bridge to buy snacks, that I might need that giant Colt 45 and cigarettes too, if I lived under the bridge.
I started having difficulty justifying the choices they were making when some months later I saw them with their three legged dog walking down College Avenue.
Now... having said all of that about my big hearted desire to help any and all people who appear to be in such trouble, I can't help but compare my little life and my little house in my little subdivision... with our country and the people who are so adamantly opposed to our new President and his plans to build our wall.
No matter how sad I was for the people under the bridge, or walking with Angels, or holding cardboard signs... I couldn't bring them home with me. Actually, they wouldn't have been happy here. They told me stories of being in jail in Arizona and families in California but they wanted to be free. To come and go as they please. To rely on others to provide for them. To refuse to let the dog be sheltered with the SPCA to heal. To live by their own rules and answer to no one. I have rules. In my house, you abide by my rules.
If I think for a minute about the people coming across our borders illegally, I am torn. Some are fleeing dreadful situations and mean no harm to anyone....they are looking for a better life for themselves and their families, but others are not. There are those who have no difficulty breaking the laws to get here and continuing to break our laws as a way of life.
I used to be fearless but now I am older and a little wiser. I am not a racist because I lock my doors at night.
Our President is not a racist because he wants to be able to lock OUR doors at night.
When Shannon was little, I would not have brought strangers into our home. I would not have trusted the world to be safe and gentle and kind and everyone wanting only what's best for everyone else. She trusted me to keep her safe so she didn't have to be afraid. I learned to lock doors.
I know there are those who disagree, and I'm okay with that, but I hope they bring all this big political stuff home. We are a big beautiful diverse family but we have to have rules. We have to understand that everyone doesn't want to be a part of our family. They don't want to follow our rules or abide by our laws. We can't just leave the doors and windows open and hope for the best.
Our President is trying to find a way to do what is best for all of us. He wants those coming into this country to be as safe as those who were born here, but that requires making some difficult and often unpopular decisions.
I guess after all this rambling, all I really want to say, to those who might be so angry about our new political environment is, remember we all live here. We all want to close our eyes at night knowing that someone, somewhere is keeping us safe. All of us. Think about this country as our home. Our shared home. And when you lock your door tonight or stand in your fenced back yard with your children or your dog, feeling safe and protected, you are not being hateful. You are not being elitist. You are not being racist.
You are being careful with... and protective of... all that you hold dear.