In the face of tragedy or suffering, we all want answers. This past week, I returned to Colorado and, like many in our community, was shocked by the Aurora movie shooting. Our community asks itself: how can such a blatant act of violence happen? How can human beings commit such evil? Or even, how do we prevent such acts in the future? Movie theater security? Tougher gun laws?
In the same vein, I am often tempted by the desire for a solution when I talk about my experience with migrants. When I mention parts of my experience, people inevitably ask: so what should our country do to improve our immigration laws?
I want to know how we can protect human rights and dignity or how laws can be just or whether people should migrate or not. I want to have a definitive opinion on national borders and on visa systems. I want to know how we can prevent violence against migrants or end the drug wars. Even more, I want to clearly express the stand that Christians should take in light of God’s call on our lives.
But mostly I just don’t know.
As you may have picked up from my blog posts, my time in Tierra Blanca was complex. It was encountering moral ambiguities and unsolvable issues. It was wanting to champion a cause but then realizing that such a cause involves dealing with real people. It was navigating my own privileges and opportunities but also my disadvantages and limits. It was learning from others with much more experience but also accepting that my approach can and should be different. It was even learning how to serve when I had concerns and hopes in my life outside of my service.
Rather than coming away with answers, I have come away with many more questions. Much more complexity, ambiguity, insecurity. And then I came back from a part of Mexico notorious for violence only to find my Mexican friends emailing me to check on whether I was affected by the massacre here. Hasn’t the US “developed” beyond this point? Aren’t we supposed to be the country that solves these problems in other nations – not the one that suffers violence ourselves?
This week, my city has confronted many questions. And as I continue to live in solidarity with and service to migrants I enter deeper into a global complexity that I cannot reconcile.
In his book Spiritual Direction, Henri Nouwen enters into that ambiguity of unresolved questions by inviting us to live the question. He suggests that “when God enters into the center of our lives to unmask our illusion of possessing final solutions and to disarm us with always deeper questions, we will not necessarily have an easier or simpler life, but certainly a life that is honest, courageous, and marked with the ongoing search for truth” (12-13).
When we face suffering in the world, I encourage us to not jump to answers out of insecurity but instead live the questions. I encourage us to trust God’s wisdom enough to know that we can be unsure.