Texas, my Texas. What Has Become of You?

Despite having been born and raised in the Lone Star State, and spending all of my 53 years here, I still can’t explain the whole Texas mystique.

Growing up here, I knew from an early age that there was just something special about being a Texan. I don’t know how I knew this. But I did.

Perhaps it’s the size of this state that fuels the sense of pride in those of us who are native-born. Texas is enormous, wide-open, diverse, and majestic. We Texans are proud of our birthright, but not too proud to be friendly and welcoming to those guests, visitors, and transplants who didn’t have the good fortune to be born here.

At least, that’s what I used to think about this state that I love. Lately, though, I’m seeing my fellow Texans in an unfavorable light. These are people that I just don’t recognize. And what I’m seeing has begun to sicken me.

As you probably know, there is currently a huge humanitarian crisis along the southern border of the U.S. Turn on any news channel, open your local paper, or google “refugee children” and you’ll find plenty of information about it. There is an ongoing influx of unaccompanied children, most from Central America, who are flooding into Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. They are seeking shelter, safety, and asylum from what is, by most accounts, unspeakable danger and violence in their own countries, Guatemala and Honduras in particular.

And here, in the state that I love, and have called home for my whole life, there are many of my fellow Texans who are greeting those children with angry, hateful taunts and signs, yelling for these children, alone and far from their homes, to go away.

I can’t say that these callous and cold-hearted displays are a complete surprise. After all, Texas is also the home of a Republican Party, whose 2014 state platform includes a measure that endorses “reparative therapy” for homosexuals. Not that the Texas GOP wants to force this therapy on anyone, you understand; they just want everyone to know that they support it for its “legitimacy and efficacy”, according to a recent article in the Texas Tribune. (For the record, reparative therapy for gays and lesbians has been proven neither legitimate nor effective. It’s just bullshit spouted by those folks who can’t accept the notion that not everyone on the planet is straight.)

Also, in the last year, the Texas legislature has done all it can to limit a woman’s right to make her own reproductive choices. And let’s not forget the whole Open Carry movement, which is spectacularly alive and well here in the Lone Star State. We love our guns! So much, in fact, that many of us don’t feel safe buying a cup of coffee or a burrito without slinging a long arm over our shoulder.

I mention these things just to clarify that, as much as I love Texas, I am not blind to the fact that it’s no longer the friendly and welcoming place that it used to be. Sad but true. The times, they are a changin’.

But this crisis on the border? Well, for me, it’s just the straw that broke the camel’s back.

These refugees, this latest wave of immigrants who have sought solace and safety here in our state? Most of them are children. Children! Some as young as seven or eight. Traveling without the protection and comfort of a parent, making a harrowing trip with people they don’t know, hungry, tired, dirty, and if I had to guess, terrified by their own circumstances. They’ve come here because they are no longer safe in their own homes. Imagine making a journey like this, only to be greeted by adults screaming at you and telling you you’re not welcome.

My knowledge of immigration policy is inadequate to argue how this problem has become so epic. Pick any administration from the last 20 years and chances are, one president or another has had a hand in the situation. Blame President Bush, or blame President Obama. It really doesn’t matter. Pointing fingers and placing blame does absolutely nothing to solve the situation at hand.

The fact is, these children are here, and their immediate needs must be addressed, regardless of who did what about immigration. When you drive up to your house and see flames and smoke billowing from the roof, that’s not really the time to argue with your spouse and your kids about who might have left a candle burning or an iron plugged in. Shouldn’t you just call the fire department?

Believe me, I’ve heard all the arguments and concerns about these refugee children: “They’re gang members!” “They’re carrying diseases!” “They just want our jobs!” “We need to help our OWN first!”

I don’t know if any of these kids are in gangs or not. From what I’ve read, many of them are fleeing their homes in order to escape from gangs. Are they carrying disease? I’m sure many of them have contracted respiratory infections and scabies, those ailments which are prevalent among people who live in close quarters for extended periods, including many homeless people right here in the U.S.

But are you really fearful about catching something from one of these refugees? Don’t be. These kids are NOT carrying ebola, no matter what Fox News or talk radio try to tell you. You might want to worry about what the kids down the block might be spreading, seeing as it’s now become fashionable NOT to vaccinate children for diseases like measles and pertussis, things we had previously succeeded in controlling.

“They just want our jobs!”

Seriously? They’re kids! They’re not here to steal anyone’s job! They just want to be safe and sleep soundly every night. More scare tactics and propaganda. Don’t buy in to it.

“We need to help our OWN first.”

At last! Something we should all agree on.

There is a vast chasm between the haves and the have-nots in this country, and we need to fix that. Let’s create jobs. Let’s increase the minimum wage. Let’s make sure kids in our country have food to eat and a roof over their heads. But while we’re doing all those things, let’s help these children who have sought our borders in desperation. There’s enough to go around.

Maybe you don’t want to see your tax dollars go to help these children. Fine. I’ll make you a deal.

I’ll put all of my tax dollars toward this issue, and other social issues, and you can direct yours toward subsidies to Big Business and corporate welfare. Maybe it will trickle down one day. I won’t be holding my breath, but you’re free to hold yours.

I guess my point in all of this is to say that, in protesting these children, in voicing our anger and opposition to their asylum within our borders, we are losing something far more important than our tax dollars. We are losing our humanity.

I ask you this, not just as a Texan, but as an American:

What has happened to our compassion? What have we become when we refuse to help a child?

What if one of these children was your child? What if the tables were turned, and you feared for your child’s future; indeed, for his very life? If you were so desperate that you sent him off on a dangerous journey alone, knowing that he might not survive, but that he would surely perish if he stayed with you, wouldn’t you hope and pray that someone on the other side would offer him shelter and safety?

It’s hard for most of us to imagine. We take our freedom, and our safety, for granted. We can sympathize (or not), but we can’t truly understand. These children, and the families they’ve left behind, have lived through horrors we can’t imagine, sitting in the safety of our homes. And we’ve seen them before, these refugees. From Bosnia. From Cuba. From Eastern Europe.

Lest you think my faith in humanity, or in Texas, has been lost, fear not! Next Saturday, I’ll be heading to the other side of the Metroplex, to help sort and pack donated items to be distributed to the 2,000 or so refugee children who are expected to be sheltered in Dallas. Catholic Charities has spearheaded this effort, but others have stepped in to lend their support and assistance, including the folks I’ll be working with.

Operation Matthew 25 is a small group started just a few weeks ago by a friend of mine from the social media world. Cindy is a nurse, a mom, and a grandmother – who better to model quiet compassion in the face of controversy? She saw through all of the shouting, the politics, and the rhetoric, and chose, instead, to roll up her sleeves and help. I’m honored to be pitching in to assist her. To date, Operation Matthew 25 has raised in excess of $12,000 in donations. Not bad for a little group that’s less than a month old.

Cindy can’t fix the immigration issue, and neither can I. So instead, we will help in our own small ways. If you would like to chip in, follow this link to the Matthew 25 Amazon registry, and order anything on the lists. It will all be put to good use. Or go back to that link to Catholic Charities and make a donation.

This is an issue that matters. You can be part of the solution.

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26 thoughts on “Texas, my Texas. What Has Become of You?

  1. Awesome story!!! Texas native myself and apart of Operation Mathew 25, it brought tears to my eyes! There is some good left in my home state and even amongst all that shouting, the power of love is overwhelming! Much love!
    S

  2. If you do not like Texas then Move! I pray to God, that Texas will always be a Red State. You Liberals are the ones that have caused this problem. We spend all of our time and money fixing your screw ups. NOT ALL of the people flowing into our border are innocent women and children. That is what the Liberal media is showing you. Their are hundreds of young men and men coming across as well. Members of some of the most dangerous gangs and drug cartels. Very dangerous people. Also they are bringing diseases with them. Some we haven’t seen in this country in decades. We need to SECURE our borders and get those people back into their own Countries. And the sooner the better.

    • Well, thank you so much, Vickie Edmondson, for proving my point in such spectacular fashion! Not only am I a liberal, I’m a godless liberal. And I’m proud to wear that hat.

    • So Vickie. You pray to God, eh?
      Matthew 25:35
      For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I was in prison and you came to see me.
      Sorry, Kelly, I don’t usually do that but I thought it had to be said.

      • Well, I’m your basic agnostic but I’m very well-versed. I’ve read up on everything from Zoroastrianism to Buddhism to, well, just about anything you can name. I don’t like it when the holier-than-thou types try to pull half quotes and cherry pick their way through religion.

  3. Excellent blog Kelly. I could not agree more that Texas needs a complete change in direction! I think it’s absolutely excellent that someone like Vickie Edmondson would come along, of her own free will, and validate the points you made!!

  4. I am a native Texan and of course I love my home state. I am not blind to the problems she has and love how you acknowledge the positives but also recognize where we have work to do. Leave the state.. oh heck no. Stick around and we can do great things!

  5. Well said Kelley. I’m not a native Texan, consider myself a liberal democrat. I can remember when both sides use to beable to work together towards a solution. Sadly, not anymore. Sure would like to see your hubby make it. Would be a breath of fresh air.

  6. I am sick and tired of fellow Texans who disagree with my point of view telling me to leave. I am fifth-generation Texan, and I’m not going anywhere. Vickie Edmondson, you really think Texas is doing well as a red state? Please explain to me how being in last place in high school graduation rates, first in amount of carbon emissions, first in hazardous waste produced, last in voter turnout, first in people without health insurance, and second in percentage of uninsured kids is good? Unlike you, I get my facts from credible sources: http://texaslsg.org/texasonthebrink/ No, Vickie, I am not going to leave. Instead, I’m staying to fight to save Texas from the embarrassment it has become after two solid decades of Republican control. We are all humans. When other humans are suffering, I will always step up to help any way I can. I don’t care who caused the problem; those kids are here now, and they need our help. I would rather be around these children who may or may not be carrying diseases than to be around people like you any day of the week. Compassion: getcha some.

  7. Why don’t conservatives consider this a pro-life issue? Seems that helping these children would be about as “pro-life”as one could get.

    • Whitney, my suspicion is that many conservatives are only pro-life when the “life” in question is white, Christian, and heterosexual. You know how picky people can be.

  8. Oh for heaven’s sake, Ms. Edmonson. Learn the difference between THEIR and THERE. Spelling and grammar matter; especially when spewing vitriol. It’s hard to be taken seriously by “those liberals” (and by Ms. Greene’s more conservative readers, like me) when the protest is not communicated well. Last in graduation rates indeed.

  9. If they are so worried about the spread of diseases, then why in the h*ll are they so worried about vaccinating their own kids. Recently there have been outbreaks in this state they claim to love of measles tuberculosis and I know of at least 2 cases of polio….POLIO, fer chrissakes! This should not happen. These people should start thinking about the diseases they’re spreading first, the primary one being ignorance!

  10. I only wish I still lived in Texas, Kel. I’d be right there with you next Saturday. As for L Swi, THANK YOU for pointing out Miss Vickie’s grammar issues. It’s so true – you CANNOT take a person serious when you’re distracted by such poor writing skills.

  11. Texans welcoming? Sorry, didn’t get the memo. I was moved here in 1964 by my parents, having been born elsewhere. I was told very early on I couldn’t be a Texan because I wasn’t born here. I have never felt like I fit in. From being told my liberal views of community, compassion, environmentalism, civil justice, and support for science were offensive to being called a whore and worse once I was divorced with 2 small kids, I’ve never been on the receiving end of anything one could call “Hospitality”. Am I surprised by the outpouring of hate for the children? Of course not……conservatives will happily tell you it’s an Obama plot to increase the number of liberal voters in TX, even tho, clearly, these children can’t vote and, most likely, will not be allowed to stay. Texas has become nauseating to me but not unrecognizable…

    • I’m truly sorry that’s been your experience. My guess is that you were in a more rural part of Texas, but maybe not. And I certainly understand being a liberal and being dismissed. It’s the story of my life these days.

    • Well, Miss Cynthia. Having had a few members of my family in the Texas legislature(from the 1800’s) and a great grandfather who used to ride the old Katy railroad may I heartily welcome you and tell you I’m very glad you’re here!

  12. I couldn’t agree more, Kelly. I’m a Texan, born and raised, and will be a Texan even after I’ve left this earth. I’ve lived in New Mexico for almost 30 years. When people ask me where I’m from I tell them I live in Albuquerque, but Fort Worth is home. I love Texas, BUT I am saddened and sickened at what has become of my beloved state. Would I ever want to live there again? No. Not unless some things change; a lot of those things are the same things that need work in NM and many other states. Fortunately, I still run into some incredibly caring and lovely people, whenever I visit. The kind of people that remind me that Texas has not yet descended into an abyss; but it (as so many other states) needs GOOD people to step up and make some noise and not be the silent majority. Hang in there, Texas! We have an incredible reputation to get back!

  13. To be honest, I’ve never felt comfortable in this country at all…let alone Texas. Don’t get me wrong, I have my friends and my family but not a lot of the pride and joy that comes from “being American”. The Land of the Free…as long as you can afford it. I came across a photo that said it best…”You’re a Christian and you’re standing on the border waving a flag, screaming obscenities at frightened children? Jesus must be really proud of you.” Don’t bring religion into a discussion that completely goes against it’s teaching with the views the Republicans have on it. Sometimes, if you’re real quiet, you can hear other countries (like CANADA) laughing at us.

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