Michelle Obama is used to being in front of children. She routinely visits schools, community centers, shelters, and social service agencies in and around Washington, D.C. She speaks with them, reads stories to them, and brings them to the White House to see her garden.
Yesterday, First Lady Obama spoke at an elementary school in Silver Spring, Maryland, to a group of inquisitive children. In this video, a 2nd grade girl speaks what is on her heart to the First Lady of the United States.
The text of their exchange is below:
"My mom ... she says that Barack Obama is taking everybody away that doesn't have papers."
Mrs. Obama replied: "Yeah, well that's something that we have to work on, right? To make sure that people can be here with the right kind of papers, right? That's exactly right."
The girl then said quietly, "But my mom doesn't have any ..." and trailed off.
Mrs. Obama replied: "Well, we have to work on that. We have to fix that, and everybody's got to work together in Congress to make sure that happens. That's right."
This exchange between a small schoolgirl and one of the most powerful women in the world strikes me because of the beautiful yet tragic imbalance of power.
In scripture, Jesus had a special relationship and understanding with children. He welcomed curious, precocious, and likely rambunctious children to His side. It was obvious that His preferential treatment of children irked his disciples, who didn't see the same value in the Savior's playtime with little ones. Rarely do we see Jesus as indignant, but in Mark 10:13, Jesus rebuked the disciples for casting off children and reminded them that, "I tell you truly, whoever doesn't receive the kingdom of God as a child will never enter into it" (Mark 10:15).
Children, then and now, see life differently and have something to share with the powerful. While politicians bicker amongst themselves about how, if, and when immigration reform will happen, the reality is that there are millions of children like the 2nd grade girl that are trying to make sense of the broken world they inhabit. May we, as adults with access to power, have the ears to hear the children in our lives and allow their perspectives to transform ours.
Allison Johnson is the campaign coordinator of Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.