Skip to main content

new collage: faceless immigrants 1-13


"faceless immigrants 1-13"
mixed media collage (found papers, acrylic paint, glue) on hardcover bookboard
november, 2018
gregory a. milinovich

i know that this is a divisive subject, and i don't mean to divide.  in fact, my sincere hope would be to build and connect.  but as i continue to glue things together in a way that expresses what is going on in my soul, i cannot help but deal with some of the discord i find there recently.  

the news has been full of stories about immigration, asylum-seekers, and how we maintain borders.  these are complicated issues, to be sure, but one of the ways that i find myself struggling as i process the things i see and hear (or sometimes try to avoid seeing and hearing), is to remember that we aren't just talking about an issue here.  

when we start painting in broad strokes and speaking in swaths of generalities, we deal in issues and policies and i understood that conversation at that level is necessary and important, but if we hold those conversations without also remembering that refugees are real people with real stories, we do so at our own peril.  and the peril, i think, is dehumanization, and demonization.  when we forget that asylum-seekers and refugees and even those who have less-innocent objectives are, in fact, human beings, then we allow ourselves to start to say and do things that we would never do to humans.  and when that happens, i wonder, who are the real demons?  

i am not suggesting that there is always an easy answer here.  i'm not asking you pick sides or agree with me.  i'm purposefully not being snarky or posting a meme about Jesus as a refugee.  because all i'm really trying to do - in these words and in the collage - is to remind us that we are talking about people.  human beings.  

if we forget that, we become less than human ourselves.  

i love this story about a united methodist pastor who took this seriously and traveled to Mexico to journey with some of these refugees, people like Samuel, like Debora, people with names and faces and stories.  what pastor Gavin discovered is that the "issue" changes dramatically when you remember that you are talking about real people with hopes and disappointments and dreams and deep fears.  people looking for answers.  people looking for a way to survive.  the way you or i might, if we were in their shoes.  

so my hope is to be careful when i hear news stories about "the migrant caravan," or when i find myself drawn into a discussion about immigration or border patrol.  i want to make sure i remember that the brown-skinned woman holding her tired toddler in her arms looking into america has a story.  i want to make sure i remember that the serious-faced, gun-wielding border patrolman from Texas has a story, too.  we are all human . we all have faces and names and a desperate need to really be human and alive.  i want to offer that primal gift to myself and others.  no matter what.   

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

an open letter to my sons' elementary school principal

here's the thing...i feel like the world needs more affirmation and encouragement.  the world needs more positivity, more joy, more love.  and while i can't change "the world," i can change the way i act and the things i do.  so i have decided to start telling people how awesome they are.  and i think it is important to do some of that in a public way.  so, here is a (slightly edited) letter i sent to our sons' elementary school principal.  he is awesome.  i hope it inspires you to tell someone how awesome they are, too.  and be awesome, yourself. 


Mr. Feldman,

I wanted to send you a quick note just to offer some affirmation, gratitude, and maybe even encouragement.  I believe that SCASD is a great school district, but I also know that being in public education can be a tough gig these days.  I admire teachers and administrators, especially when they do their job as a vocation, with passion and conviction.  This I see in you.  I will name three things I have per…

"follow me"

so here's the thing: i call myself a Christian.  actually, i don't even use that word as much anymore, because it ends up being a wedge between me and many other people as soon as i use it.  instead, i like to say that i'm a Christ-follower (which is closer to the way the very first Christ-followers talked about it anyway).  to be a Christ-follower is to - wait for it - follow Christ.  i know, surprising, right? 

well, it shouldn't be a shock to us that being a Christ-follower, or a Christian, means following Christ, but in America in 2018 calling yourself a Christian often has far too little to do with actually following Jesus.  when people call themselves Christians in america today, they may mean any number of things, such as:
-i went to a church sometimes when i grew up;
-i once got 'saved' at a christian camp or crusade;
-i believe in God;
-i am in favor of traditional american evangelical political positions;
-i say merry christmas instead of happy holid…

joy! this woman was born!

my friends, this unparalleled woman is celebrating a birthday today, and i cannot help but stop and say thanks that she was born.  every once in a while i imagine my life without her, and it is a dark and grim vision.  in this vision, there are no children living in my house, no voices singing opera from the shower, no kids books strewn across the living room.  in this vision, i eat spaghetti-o's from a can for dinner every night, and i am stuck in every rut i've ever gotten into.  in this terrifying vision the color of everything is gray, music sounds like a monotonous drone, and everything feels like long, cold nights. 

but she was born!

and somehow our paths were blessed to cross, and somehow i was able to convince her that spending her life with me wouldn't be as awful as it might have seemed, and somehow these last 19 years feel like the blink of an eye; like a colorful, melodic, sun-drenched, joy-filled, broken-but-blessed blink-of-an-eye journey.  all because on th…