23 October 2005

The Angels Visited the Farm Workers

Pretend someone on the street stops you, says they are a BIG fan of yours because they saw you do the thing in your life you are most proud of. You are flattered and find you have a few minutes to chat with this person. Then this person asks you to list your top 5 good qualities. What are they?

Then, once you've listed them and you two are standing there smiling at each other, this person asks you to relate your shining qualities to the war in Iraq.

How do you feel? Do you have an answer prepared - have you ever thought about it?

Last night I went to the presentation of the first Non-violence award to Dolores Huerta, cofounder of the United Farm Workers movement, friend of Cesar Chavez. There to interview her for the award was Amy Goodman of Democracy Now, nothing short of the rock star of independent media and a brilliant journalist. I sat in a great church in Oakland, was warmly welcomed by a great pastor, and grinned at my privilege to observe the conversation between these two women.

In all of Amy's interviews she asks the person to relate their claim to fame to the current war in Iraq. I love this part.

Dolores said that her involvement with growers and migrant workers always involved getting the growers to see their laborers as human beings. Many times the first big victory with growers and owners was to get them to provide toilets in the fields for their workers to use. What person do you know who doesn't need a toilet? It is this, she said, that she can relate to the war in Iraq. We do not see those we bomb as people, at least not the kind of people we are. They must be something less than us; otherwise, how could we bomb them? Would we bomb our grandmothers or our children? She put it another way when she said, I doubt we'd put bombs in Afghanistan and Iraq if the people were white.

Though it was Amy and her stardom that took me there, it was the pastor who left the most lasting impression on me. She reminded us that the angels went first to farm workers tell the news that the savior was born. She said that the new baby had no good housing (sleeping with livestock) and no medical care (rested in a trough). She asked that we remember that those without housing or medical care are the ones who are Christ to us in this world. When you cared for the least of these... I took those words home in my heart.


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