Think about the last time you walked somewhere out of necessity. Not because you wanted exercise or because the weather was nice or because your dog was barking at the door, but because you absolutely had to.
And I do mean had to. Like you couldn’t use Lyft or call a friend or phone AAA or ride a bus or the metro.
How far was it? A mile? Five? Ten? Did you have something to drink? Have to carry anything? Were your children with you? Did you feel safe? How was the weather? Did you know exactly where you were going, or that there would be relief when you arrived?
Could you walk 20 miles if forced? 50? 100?
What about thousands? What would that take?
What would it take for you to kneel down in front of your daughter and tell her to put her three favorite things in her tiny backpack, to tell her a story about your trip that would prepare her, but wouldn’t make her too afraid?
To leave behind the woman who raised you because the journey was too long her? To look your mother in the eyes and know you were saying goodbye for the last time?
What would it take for you to slip out the door of the only home you’d ever owned under cover of darkness? To leave behind the walls that had kept you just safe enough to survive until now, for an uncertain and unpromised future?
How much could you carry? The weight of yourself, or your children, of the life you were leaving behind? Could you manage food in addition to your wedding photos, and how would you eat if you couldn’t? Would you have the strength to leave all the memories behind?
How would you dress if you knew the temperatures would regularly rise above 100 degrees? That the hot tar would sometimes burn through your shoes? That the sun would reach layers of skin it was never meant to touch, making everything sting, leaving places numb forever?
What would it take to know all of this, everything that waited at the end of the road and everything that didn’t, and to still go?
It would have to depend on more than just your own life, I know that. I could not crawl 1000 miles through the mountains and desserts to save myself. But maybe, I could do it for my children. I could dig inside myself and pull out something I didn’t know was there. I could numb myself to pain and suffering and cruelty and loss if I knew it was the only way my children would live.
So what if you did it for her. And you survived, against all odds? What if you walked the last two days without shoes or water? What if you knelt in the dirt at the third border you’d crossed, where the walls didn’t reach high enough to block your path, and before you knew what was happening, your daughter was pried from your arms.
What if this story weren’t just one story, but the story of millions of people who loved their children enough to sacrifice everything to save them? Would that remind you of any stories you’d heard before?
And what if we knelt at the cross of a savior who gave up everything for us, and asked us to do the same, and didn’t see our savior’s face in the starved families at our borders? Could we still look at our own in the mirror?
This is not a horror story. Or maybe it is. But it is the one we are living in. And we should vote like it. We should vote like our current administration stole children from the hands of their courageous parents for having the audacity to try to save them.
We should vote like those children matter. Like they deserve to hug their parents goodnight in safe homes the same way we do. We should vote like we are all humans who recognize the humanity in each other. Who fight for the children of others like they are our own.
They have taken one million steps. What would it take for us to take one in their direction? Are you willing to find out?