Waiting in line at a Sunday buffet, I overheard parents good-naturedly tease their children. “Behave or I’ll put you in a cage!”

I failed. I did not say what was in my heart: that this is not a joking matter, but an atrocity that needs our outrage.

Somehow, those few overheard words indicated permission for this evil. And evil it is. It is illegal to hold children for more than 72 hours, it is morally wrong to separate families, and putting human beings in unsafe and unsanitary and dangerous circumstances is a violation of everything we stand for.

Making fun of it is communicating permission. And that is wrong.

I wish I had responded, somehow. What could I say? I did not want to inject a negative tone into a pleasant Sunday morning. I did not want to offend our visitors. But that comment was wrong.

So I failed again. When the waitress asked about our Fourth of July plans, I snapped: “I refuse to celebrate freedom when this country is violating the very people seeking freedom.”


I did not need to be so rude. But I do refuse to honor the freedoms this country stands for when this country is in violation of every moral and decent value for which this country stands.

Maybe I could have smiled and admitted that even as I waited in line, I felt guilty, that I could wait in line for a pleasant meal while so many are waiting in line for help. Maybe I could have confessed that I weep over the atrocities being committed at our southern border.

How could I have responded? How do we raise awareness, teach our children compassion and address this traumatic time?

What would you do?

Linda Littlefield Grenfell


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