The hotel breakfast was plentiful — devoured mainly by older, white retirees with the time and money to explore America’s majestic landscape. And who would want to start such a good day without a hearty helpin’ of comfort food?

Passing near the kitchen I overheard a conversation between the apparent manager and a helpful staff person — both of whom were busy preparing and delivering more food to the overstuffed assembly around tables and chairs that overlooked dew-kissed pastures at sunrise.

The manager was not complaining, but simply lamenting the work yet to be done with limited staff. He named an individual who would not be coming in to work — and spoke to the overall challenge of employee shortages in the U.S.

The staff person, speaking with a soft Spanish accent, said she had some matters to care for at home, but would come back later in the afternoon — well after her shift — if that would be helpful.

“You would do that?” the manager said gratefully. Yes, she confirmed, saying she didn’t want him to be in a bind.

Oh, the disconnect between ideology and reality is on full display for those with eyes to see and ears to hear.

Those very people sucking down coffee, eggs and sticky buns are the first to expect first-class service — even when at an inexpensive hotel or fast-food restaurant. All of which now seem to be posting “Help Wanted” signs.

Yet, these are the very persons who tend to be among those most likely to speak disparagingly of immigrants and oppose legislation that allows displaced persons a safe, secure home in the supposed land of the free and home of the brave.

That is, they want their morning sticky buns but not more brown buns in “our” country.

A mom holding a child.

(Photo: John D. Pierce)

The faces of mothers with children that I met in migrant shelters in Mexico border towns earlier this year still linger. Desperately, they left unsafe situations in hopes of security for themselves and their families.

They would gladly and gratefully fill many of these employment needs across the U.S. — even willingly extend their shifts if needed. But they’ve become political pawns — even scapegoats to be blamed for whatever ills we Americans have created for ourselves.

When visiting a migrant shelter in the crime-ridden town of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, it was embarrassing to hear Pastor Lorenzo Ortiz of Laredo, Texas, who ministers on both sides of the border, tell a group of vulnerable migrants in one of his shelters the unvarnished truth.

“Many Americans think you are criminals,” he honestly conveyed to the huddled families seeking refuge from violence and abuse. But then he added compassionately and pastorally, “but we know what you are going through.”

What he didn’t tell them, that is also true, is that much of the hatred and hostility toward migrants comes from those who’ve spent a lifetime in church — studying the Bible and hearing about Jesus. But then being ruled by unfounded fears and personal biases rather than taking those biblical lessons seriously.

Distaste for immigrants and the consumption of misleading political slogans about “criminals” and “open borders” get chewed along with the sausage and gravy by so many “Christian values” proponents who remain oblivious to, or intentionally detached from, human struggles and communal realities.

Racism is so deeply ingrained in American culture at large, and particularly in much of Americanized Christianity. This bigotry, in recent years, has been empowered and exploited by political opportunists and media blowhards to the point that many Americans undermine their own interests.

They can’t see the clear disconnection with the service they seek and their disdain for the “other” — who are not only persons created in the image of God, but also those who could be of high value in meeting the needs and wants of those who demean them.

A new dynamic is at play, however, as Ukrainians in large numbers are seeking refuge. Already the U.S. government is loosening some immigration restrictions to accommodate these, yes, mostly white Christian refugees in need of secure homes and employment.

They need a home and can provide some of the skills needed. But they are not the only ones.

Tragically, many Americans, including large numbers of professing Christians, would rather score a political point in their limited-media-shaped minds than to do the right thing they’ve been taught since children’s Sunday school classes — even if it is to their own benefit as well as to the community at large.

It’s a sticky situation in which true Christian values, along with piously espoused national ideals, simply don’t break through.

If Jesus can’t get to them, at least you’d think a little self-interest might work — since we’ve got to have our coffee and sticky buns. But then, why start dealing with reality — or Jesus for that matter — now?

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