On Sunday evenings I listen to re-broadcasts of the old American Top 40 Countdown shows and if you remember listening to those, you know that there were segments called ‘Long Distance Dedications’. Most were from people wanting to acknowledge individuals who had made a difference in their lives, but one man wrote in with a different story. His dedication was to the men he was imprisoned with, and who were being executed every morning at dawn.
In his letter he told how he’d been arrested on drug-trafficking charges in South Africa (this was the early 1980’s) and while in prison awaiting trial, every night the other prisoners, black South African men, would sing and dance all night long before they were executed in the morning. These men were mostly political prisoners, prisoners of conscience whose only crimes were being black and speaking out against the apartheid system of government in South Africa then. The songs they sang and danced to were by black South African artists except for one: “Mother and Child Reunion” by Paul Simon, a white American artist.
The reason this song and this story come to mind is what’s happening right here and now in the United States with children being taken from their mothers as they arrive at the border fleeing the violence, poverty, and oppression in their home countries. Those men in South Africa had mothers, too, mothers who might not have known where their sons were, or that they were going to die. The pain of a mother knows no limits, yet mothers are the ones who are targeted by the most evil of regimes. Mothers throughout human history have had their children taken from them, from Jewish children in Nazi Germany, to Native children in Australia, Canada, and the United States (yes, there were Stolen Generations here in the US, just like Australia and Canada), and now here at our borders.
But let’s not talk about the past but about the present, the Here and Now we all live in, and the Hell that is the Here and Now for the mothers at the border detention centers hearing the cries of their children, and crying for them in return.
Reunite the Mothers and Children
And may all who act on this atrocity face justice in this life, and the next.