“The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the Lord your God (Leviticus 19:34).”
You see, my new neighbors are "aliens." In fact, aliens are transforming my block.
Thanks to one of the top 10 or so snowiest December's on record, I got to meet the newest addition to our little "United Nations" block in south Minneapolis. After the most recent fluffy deluge, I was outside shoveling my walk, and I saw my newest neighbors attempting to clear off their sidewalks. I say "attempting" because they were trying to shovel 6" of snowfall with a spade shovel, which is all they had. And as a native Minnesotan, I am sort of a snow shovel savant , so I had to step in (any seasoned shoveler would have done it). And that is how I met Ali and Hayat, the Somali family that now lives two doors down.
The house they moved into is more than just the new neighbors house. It represents a lot microcosmically about certain 'issues' that are impacting our country:
-The last people to own the house were a Mexican family [issue: immigrants, documented and undocumented most likely].
-They lost the house due to both immigration paperwork issues (the father was deported) AND the resulting inability of the now abandoned mother-of-three to pay her escalating mortgage payment on their adjustable rate mortgage they got talked into by some modern day carpet-bagger [issue: foreclosure epidemic].
-The house sat vacant for over a year. The copper was stolen [issue: globalization. One of the reasons copper prices have escalated is due to the massive amount of copper needed for construction projects in China, India, and South America]. Eventually it was boarded up.
-Then signs of new life! Hammers a-pounding! I went to over one day to see who was building, and try to get a little inside information. The construction crew were all Ecuadorian workers, led by a Mexican guy who had great control of the English language [issue: immigration, again].
-The house was completed, and Ali, Hayat, and their brood moved in [issue: refugee/immigration, again. And in this case, if you know the reason Somali's got to MN in the first place: US Foreign Policy, East African national and ethnic tensions].
So, now I have new neighbors, and I look forward to seeing how our paths will cross again. And if I ever wonder what attitude I am to take concerning these 'aliens' who are my neighbors, I think that passage in Leviticus makes it pretty clear: I am supposed to love them as much as I love myself (which is an awful lot, I must admit) and to treat them as "native-born." Welcome to the neighborhood, Ali and Hayat.