7:47 and 1/3

“7:47 and 1/3”©         by Rev. Jim Ryan,  jimryan6885@gmail.com

In another time of autocratic rule, when those who had the title of Peoples’ Representatives stood by and did nothing, the Nazi government followed Hitler’s lead from his tome, Mein Kampf, and engaged in the practice of the Big Lie.  In 1951, following what seemed to be the defeat of this cancer in society and the body politic, the political theorist, Hannah Arendt, wrote this about the success of those who lived by telling the “Big Lie.”

“In an ever-changing incomprehensible world the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and nothing was true.”

                                                            The Rise of Totalitarianism

In our time, if you have not listened to the audio of children sobbing, wailing, crying as they are, today, detained in cages at the southern border of this country then you need to take time out – 7 minutes and 47 seconds to be precise – to understand something that has become horribly possible and a fact that is glaringly true.  Look it up – even I could google it.  The folks at Pro Publica and the ACLU have once again served us well.

7:47.  That’s a number that has marked the separation between anything that’s possible and an accusation against the United States of America, Land of the Free and Home of the Brave.  7 minutes and 47 seconds, the evidence that the Big Liars are using children to force their will on the majority of us.  Because the second number to consider is 1/3.  One-third of us – apparently – constitutes the base for Donald Trump’s self-aggrandizing surety of his style of leadership.  And it works, also apparently, because those in Trump’s political party who hold the title of “Representative” are cowed by the 1/3.

Do the numbers.  7:47 – a time that accuses.  1/3 – a fraction that bemuses.

In religious terms these two numbers speak to the lies that pass for truth.  When the Attorney General of the United States tortures the Word of God for his own purposes then truth is revealed.  When that same person, who built a career as a Southern Senator using code words and dog whistles for racist actions, twists the Word of God to convey messages that are not contained in that Word then truth is revealed.  When this toady does whatever he thinks it takes to please a self-obsessed narcissist (is that an oxymoron)-in-chief then truth is revealed.

The Big Lie by the numbers is a tragically forced deja-vu experience of believing in everything and of holding that nothing is true.  7:47 has revealed a lie at the heart and soul of America.  1/3 stands as a cold-blooded reversal of our immigrant history.

Yesterday, I responded to an email call for support of a young mother – an undocumented parent of 4 young children (American citizens all) – who had a sentencing appearance at the Walworth County Justice Center.  The call came from the “New Sanctuary” movement.  The concern was that her appearance in court made her easy pickings for ICE, the immigration police.  If this woman was not sentenced to jail ICE could easily detain her and take her away.

I joined 15 other Americans, residents of southeastern Wisconsin, who took her in our care.  We were called “huggers” because we stood and walked with this person who was positioned in the middle of us carrying her infant son.  Our job was to shield them against the potential of her detention.  The idea was that we would “hug” her into the courtroom and,afterwards, out the door into the car waiting for her.  Truthfully, I did not know what I was getting myself into.  The group of us only wanted to help – to make it possible for her to return safely to her home in Whitewater with her children.  When we “hugged” her to the waiting car the torrential downpour that showered us all was maybe enough to discourage ICE to wait for better weather.

Frankly, as it turned out I was amazed at the judge’s understanding.  I would tell you his name but I believe a little anonymity could support him in his future decisions based upon the same understanding and compassion.  Besides, as the judge pointed out, the inner workings of the justice system is a complete Catch-22 of laws, procedures, and processes.  To convey in this piece all the details of what we experienced in the courtroom would extend this longer than is necessary.  I’ll just say it was an up-front experience for me of a system in which everything and nothing is possible.  Justice screwed-up is Justice at the mercy of the powerful.  Fortunately, yesterday the Judge exercised power with understanding, and dare I say mercy.

Picture this, if you will.  A courtroom in Elkhorn, Wisconsin, on June 18, 2018 wherein a young immigrant mother sits with her infant son on her lap at the defendant’s table with her Public Defender lawyer on her left and the court-appointed translator speaking into her ear on her right.  At the bench is the judge looking out at her as well as at us 15 “huggers” sitting behind her in the courtroom.  I’m guessing our presence came as a surprise to him.  Do you think the judge thinks, “Am I really going to separate this mother from her children by giving her a jail sentence based upon charges that in other Wisconsin Counties are subject only to tickets and fines?”  I would like to think that he was also asking himself, “With what is going on now, today, on this country’s southern border am I going to participate in the Big Lie and separate this mother from her children?”  If it wasn’t so real, I admit that I had a feeling of being on the set of that old TV program, “The Twilight Zone.”

I submit for your consideration and prayer:  May 7 minutes and 47 seconds of the sounds of children who have been wrenched away from their parents cause the 1/3 of us who love being hardline to pause, to change.

Yesterday, I also heard a thoughtful person say, “Jesus said, ‘Let the little children suffer to come unto me.’ Jesus did not say, ‘Let the little children suffer.’”  Thank you, Hillary.

A Prayer

Let the children come to me and do not hinder them.  Jesus, you show the way of truth.  Today, here and now, we pray for changed hearts and actions.  For those who believe in you and for those who don’t let our consciences recognize truth, justice and mercy.  Guide us away from the Big Lie which has so often afflicted our humanity and impoverished our spirits.  Let the children not suffer but only thrive in the embrace of family.   Amen.

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