Loving Thy Neighbor, the Tennessee Way

Nashville, TN

Yesterday, ICE officials sought to detain and expel a 14-year Nashville, Tennessee resident from his home. Thinking this would be an easy snatch-and-grab, the ICE agents came with an administrative order, and sought to physically remove the man in question from his van, with his young son sitting next to him.

That’s when things stopped going as planned. The ICE agents likely assumed that given this was the Deep South, there would be no noise raised against their actions in the working-class neighborhood. However, Whites, Latinos and African-Americans have lived together for years without incident here. Within minutes of seeing what was going on from their porches and windows, neighbors of all races, colors and ages formed a human shield around the van to protect the family. One neighbor, with a prominent cross hanging on her chest, told news reporters, “God made all of us…we’ll be back again when [ICE agents] come again.”

God made all of us. Truer words could have been spoken. In these trying times, perhaps we should take a moment to consider these words from Galatians 5:14: “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

There is no law greater therein: our duty to our neighbors is sacrosanct. We as a people continue to struggle with duties to our neighbors and unto ourselves because of both economic hardship and the growing hardness of our hearts. Government can only cure on of those ailments — the other comes from compassion, love and tolerance for the one other. For we were once all strangers in Egypt.

The Pluralism Project was founded to help Americans remember our core values: Patriotism, Loving Your Neighbor, as well as to remind politicians that our society’s rights and wrongs will come into account one way or another. By far, it is better that we engage in self-accountability rather than leaving our fate to others. But leaving our fate to others is exactly what the Trump administration is choosing to do when placing migrants, asylum seekers and young children in cages without basic human necessities: the United Nations condemned us in front of the world for these injustices. If the highest law is to love our neighbors, then as our neighbors cross our border into America, why have those with power chosen to mistreat them in these inhuman ways?

In Nashville at least, our commitment to patriotic values remains strong: those neighbors took Galatians to heart, and delivered the Law when Caesar’s agents sough to abuse their authority.

By Hamza Khan

Executive Director of the Pluralism Project

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Hamza Khan