I holds two ideals that will collide this Lenten season.
The first ideal is a belief that fear is the greatest wall keeping Americans from loving our unauthorized immigrant neighbors. No law or policy can destroy this wall; only a fearless love can do that. The other ideal that has a grip on my heart is the belief that as a privileged American, I must reduce my carbon footprint for the sake of the world’s fragile ecology and the globe’s poorest inhabitants who bear the brunt of my excess consumption.
So how will these two ideals collide this Lenten season?
“Perhaps this will teach you to stop driving,” is a common refrain uttered by local judges as they impose harsh sanctions against undocumented immigrants who are ticketed for driving without a license. These “un-licenseable” immigrants are often nabbed at roadblocks going to and from work, worship or Wal-Mart. However, Georgia’s anti-immigrant sentiment has given the illusion of short-term political capital and legislators have now made driving without a license a moving violation that can include fines well over $1,000, months of incarceration and can even be elevated to a felony. In a car-crazed culture like ours, in a community like LaGrange that offers no public transportation, how can anyone expect an un-licenseable immigrant to stop driving? This law is a form of entrapment that is designed to further scapegoat immigrants when it is our insatiable greed and incongruous immigration policies which are greater causal factors for the presence of 12-20 million hardworking, faithful newcomers without legal authorization. So, a major catalyst for undergoing such a fast is to stand in solidarity with these men and women who come here in search of their daily bread in a land where bread is located driving distance away in the area grocery stores.
On the other side, I would love to become a car-free person by choice, not by coercion. I already drive a hybrid, try to walk or bike for transportation and not just for exercise but I wonder if I can do better. I drive about 12,000 miles per year. Can I significantly reduce that? What will I learn about myself and my lifestyle by fasting from driving? What dark corners of my soul will be exposed by this “experiment” in renunciation of a cultural norm?
With this being a Lenten fast, prayer will also be an important component to this period of fasting. Pray for me and visit this blog as I post my prayers and reflections on what living carless and in solidarity with immigrants looks like.