By Abe Villarreal

I heard a saying the other day. It went something like: See the world through the eyes of the person you are talking to.

It made me pause for a moment. I felt a little conflicted thinking of how often I speak to someone thinking of what I want them to hear while ignoring what they are telling me and why it matters to them.

On the first day of school for kids in Mississippi this week, what would typically be a day of happiness and new beginnings, turned into a nightmare. Dozens of infants and toddlers returned home to missing parents. A massive raid conducted by the U.S. Government left kids without parents. How do you tell a child that their parents had broken the rules, and they deserved to be taken away?

Somehow it all doesn’t make sense. Rules are rules, and the consequences are real. And when you live in a society where the rule of law is essential, it doesn’t matter how many kids will cry themselves to sleep at night because for their lettuce-picking parents it was time to go “home.”

For some, there is no balance between a society that follows the law and one that does it compassionately. We want affordable and fresh-tasting vegetables; we just won't tolerate the means that justify our ends.

We want clean hotel rooms with tip-top service, but we are more comfortable not knowing that our maids would never be able to rent a room of their own.

We want communities with healthy and educated kids, but only if they were born in our country and their parents pay what we consider the right amount of taxes.

We have become an out of sight, out of mind country. Seeing the world through someone else’s eyes is a tough thing to do it because it forces us to open our eyes wider than we are used to doing.

As you read this, small kids who have only known the United States as their home are falling to sleep with tears in their eyes, in the bedrooms of strangers, longing to be embraced by hard-working parents who are making meager wages to do the kind of work most us both benefit from and look down on.

But it doesn’t matter, because we know better. We make and enforce the rules no matter the long-lasting consequences that come from family separations.

One day, our grandchildren will look back to us and attempt to imagine life through our eyes. They will be saddened and confused, as they try to figure out how and when we lost our way as a compassionate society that treated others as we would want to be treated.

We say we are the greatest nation in the world. We also say that we are a Christian nation. Let’s act like it.

Abe Villarreal writes about life and culture in southern New Mexico. He can be reached at abevillarreal@hotmail.com.