Contrary to the old adage, fences do not necessarily make good neighbors. In our election campaign season this last year, the winning candidate promised to build a wall and have our neighbor pay for it. We’ll see. Now by presidential executive order, an indefinite ban on all refugees from certain predominantly Muslim countries entering our country has also been put in place. Yet central to the biblical tradition is the repeated reminder, “: “You shall not oppress a resident alien; you know the heart of an alien, for you were once aliens …” ( Ex. 23:9) And one of the parables considered most authentic to the Galilean sage is about finding abundant life by caring for the stranger in our midst as our neighbor.
It has been argued by some that if you don’t have a wall on your borders, then you don’t have a country. On the other hand, if we don’t treat the alien in our midst as one of “us,” then what kind of a country do we have? And who is our neighbor?
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