Mt. Vernon Register-News

Opinion

April 18, 2014

Only love can re-make your heart

Was Jeb Bush right to insert love into a political debate?

Such was the gist of a question I was asked on talk radio in response to the former Florida governor’s assertion that some immigrants come into the United States illegally as an “act of love.”

It would be trite to echo the Beatles a half-decade later and say, “All You Need Is Love.” It would also oversimplify and obscure rigorous policy differences. But it also could be a start.

It was decades ago when I first heard someone suggest “higher fences” — wired for electricity — as the optimum solution for any and all immigration problems. The commenter may have been half-joking, but the sentiment exists, and it’s distressing. To borrow a phrase from Boys Town, he’s not an illegal, he’s my brother.

That’s the point Cardinal Sean O’Malley and others were making earlier this month when they celebrated Mass at a Mexico border crossing in Phoenix.

For two decades, O’Malley, the current cardinal archbishop of Boston, worked with immigrants in Washington, D.C. At the Mass, he said: “I often share the story of my first days at the Centro Catolico, when I was visited by a man from El Salvador who sat at my desk and burst into tears as he handed me a letter from his wife back in El Salvador, who remonstrated him for having abandoned her and their six children to penury and starvation.”

The man in O’Malley’s anecdote had been putting all his earnings in an envelope, which he put in what he’d been told was the mailbox on the corner. In truth, it was a fancy trash can, and his money was being stolen.

When we talk politics, this is what we ought to bear in mind: people, humiliations, hopes and dreams, pain and heartache. And, yes, love.

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