A few days ago, as I registered migrants entering our shelter, I reached a point that scared me. A point where the stories started to sound normal. That particular day almost every person that I interviewed had been robbed at some point on their journey so far. The stories started sounding similar and blending together.
Two or three men with covered faces wielding most likely pistols but sometimes machetes. They threaten the group of migrants with their weapons and make them turn over all of their money and any other property. It could be 1000 pesos (around 70 dollars) or 1000 quetzals (35 dollars). The robbers then leave, the migrants continue on the train, and arrive at our shelter with no money, no identification documents, and possibly no clothes other than the ones they are wearing.
One of the stories that day was more dramatic. A group of about 20 migrants was threatened by men with machetes and forced to undress and lie on the ground while the bandits stole all of their belongings and raped the two women in the group. Afterward, they told other people in the town about the incident and the townspeople said that this kind of attack was now normal for that area.
Robbery should not be normal. Men wielding pistols or machetes should not be normal. Rape and abuse should not be normal. Police corruption should not be normal.
No matter how common these events are, I never want to fall into the complacency to accept them. That particular day, it took a migrant to wake me up from my calm registration. Most of the migrants, when asked about abuse, will downplay the incident and say: “No, I haven’t suffered any aggression on the journey, just a small robbery.” But one migrant, when recounting the story, explained to me his anger and frustration at being robbed. How it was the first time he had suffered this aggression and how he had not been able to contact his family since that point because he no longer has any money.
We should get angry at the injustice of the world. We should mourn for all of the brokenness and sin that appear every day. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” That statement goes along with what he said a few sentences later: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
I don’t want to live with a calm acceptance of the abuse or suffering that I see in the world. Because as common as it is, it is not acceptable, in the sense that this world was intended for something else. God intends for us to enter into His kingdom. In our weeping for the world we remember the need for His salvation.
Let us continually hear accounts of daily suffering without ever accepting them as a normal part of every-day life.