By Elvira Arellano
It is said that to change the world you must first change yourself. The struggle in our community for immigration reform now requires each of us, individually, to look deeply into ourselves and confront the demons of doubt that so often make us weak.
While I was organizing Familia Latina Unida and during that long year I spent in my church in Sanctuary in Chicago, there were always voices of discouragement. Sometimes they were angry and vicious. The voices said we had no chance to win and that I was foolish to keep on struggling. I confess I had times of despair and self-doubt.
In first Corinthians, Saint Paul writes, “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise.'”
The “Wise ones” are always telling us that we cannot win, that it is not our time, that no one will listen to us. They try to make our cause seem foolish and to create doubts and divisions in our hearts. When these voices surround us, we have to rely on our faith.
Our community has done so much to win the right for families to stay together, to work hard and raise our children in the ways of the Lord. We stood up, we marched and finally we elected President Obama and the Democrats in Congress. We have waited for over a year for them to keep their promise and still they will not set a date to pass immigration reform. Every day, more people are deported, more lose their jobs, and more families are separated. The voices are telling us that there is nothing we can do.
Saulito and I marched in Mexico City last month, surrounding the U.S. embassy with over 5,000 people on January 20th, demanding legalization. We waited – and wondered – what the movement in the United States would do. Then we heard. Congressman Luis Gutierrez has called for a March on Washington on March 21st!
The Congressman and organizations across the nation have said that we must set our own deadline for Obama and the democrats to fulfill their promise and we must do it with force and with our numbers. If they have not moved immigration reform by March 21st, than they no longer deserve our community’s support. No legalization, no re-election!
Even as I rejoiced at the news of the historic march on Washington, I heard the demons of doubts, the voices of discouragement, beginning around us. “It is not your time, your efforts are foolish.” The voices claim to be wise in the ways of politics.
Don’t listen to them!
The truth is this: we don’t have a right to give up our struggle! We don’t have the right to give up and turn our backs on our children, on our families, on our neighbors. What God has joined together, no man, and no government can be allowed to separate.
Why did so many millions of us go to the north to work and raise families? Well, why was Joseph sold into slavery in Egypt only to rise with God’s hand to bring his own people to Egypt and save them from starvation? God brought so many million Latinos to the United States so that our families and our people would survive, be fruitful and multiply. It is our destiny and we will change the United States for the better. Latinos will not only save themselves but when we win legalization the Latino community will help that nation work its way out of its economic depression – because we are the workers!
When Jesus sent out his disciples he gave them the authority to heal the sick and drive out demons. Today, He gives us the authority to drive out the demons of doubt and the voices of desperation. Let every person look deep into themselves and face the demons and grow strong in their faith – and then begin to prepare to take their place in history on March 21st in Washington D.C.