I am a mother. It was not planned, hoped for or desired, but one day I found myself sitting across the desk of a Military Doctor as he informed me that I was pregnant. Shocked into blurting out “that is impossible,” he crassly replied “you and your husband do have sex, don’t you?” One weekend in San Francisco without protection…one! So my first reaction is shocked disbelief, later morphing into resignation, then to acceptance. It was my assigned delivery doctor who changed the entire emotional trajectory when he stated that he could hear the babies heartbeat. Suddenly the whole experience was warm and real. I spent the next few months running through the surf along Monterey beaches, climbing the mountains with my bow and arrows, scaring our police officer friend into leaving abruptly when he was told I was due that day…on the mountain, with my bow in hand. Two weeks later, on my sixth wedding anniversary, I was holding my newborn daughter and experiencing emotions that I had never felt previously, chief among them-protectiveness.
The desire to love and protect was strong on our long plane ride to join my husband in Okinawa. I wrote scripts in my head how to hold and shelter her if the plane crashed. I gave her liquids and tried to sponge her to keep her cool as the old military prop plane lost its air circulation. I felt gratitude toward the young soldiers who cared for the three moms and their babies on Wake Island where we spent the night.
Those were the flashbacks, the memories that overwhelmed me today as I listened to a news report stating that a nursing baby was literally torn from its mothers breast while nursing. The mother after all was a criminal, coming to the US hoping to escape abuse, torture and murder in her own country…such a heinous crime.
I grew up in an America I considered great. With all the awful stumbles…slavery, Indian massacres, KKK members hanging young boys from trees, internship of US citizens of Japanese descent…after WWII we were promoting a plan for peace and reformation. We helped all impacted nations re-build, friend and foe alike. We were taking baby steps toward equality of opportunity, fair housing, and non-discrimination. The world was trying to put the memory of thousands of families torn apart, of all those wasted bodies found in concentration camps, in the past, but carried as a warning for the future.
It seems the future is here and now. What our government is doing may be only a shadow of what went on in Europe, but the shadow continues to darken and awaken memories of the atrocities wreaked on innocent persons who just happened to be of a different faith, or roamed Europe in Gypsy wagons, or preferred to love someone of the same sex, or just disagreed with the political leaders. We have often wondered what could cause a citizenry to stand by, even participate in, the kind of atrocities seen under Hitler’s Germany. Now we know, as that ICE member tears babies away from their mothers as punishment for daring to seek asylum from abusers, or to save their children from conscription in gangs. It is not power that makes a nation great. Its greatness lies in the people, their ethics, morality and humanity.
And so I address the mothers of our United States: if you find it impossible to feel outrage at what is happening to those suffering moms and the babies they may never see again then I pity you, your lack of soul and your discard of Christian ideals. I feel sorrow that there are a great many citizens who feel their ideas of how others should live, and the necessity of packing the courts with judges who see things their way, is more important than the lives and welfare of suffering asylum seekers and their babies.
I am approaching my eightieth year and can do little but despair at the trajectory our country is now following. I cry when tiny children are shown traumatized as they are yanked from the only source of love they have known, the rock of their safety. I remain puzzled by the women who revere this regime. I am overwhelmed by how those immigrant women feel, because I am also a mother.