They Say I See

By: Chris Williams

They say they are intruders.
I see they are fleeing violent intrusion

They say they are thieves
I see they are stolen from

They say they are violent
I see they are afflicted

They say they are terrorists
I see they are terrorized

They say they are aliens
I see they are neighbors

They say they are illegals
I see they are victims

They say they are a danger
I see they are in danger

They say they need to learn
I see they are teachers

They say they are lazy
I see they work hard

They say they are a problem
I see they are a blessing

They say they are selfish
I see they are loving

They say they are different
I see they are the same

They say what others say
I see what I see

When the heart is touched by direct experience, the mind is challenged to change.”~Fr. Peter Hans Kolvenbach, S.J.

My heart was touched by direct experience in El Paso, and it illuminated for me countless paradoxes in the language articulated around the issue of immigration, and the people who migrate to the United States.

Language may not seem like a big deal, but in fact, I think it reflects interior attitudes and stances regarding people and how they are perceived. Furthermore, the more  people hear the same language about something, the more they internalize that language to actually be the case, when perhaps it is only illusion.

By seeing, experiencing, and letting our hearts be touched by direct experience, we can dig closer to the reality of the world, reject the illusions that dehumanize, and see the common humanity in all. I certainly experienced this in encountering the wonderful people of El Paso.


The CCSJ blogs are meant to be a place for Creighton students, faculty, staff, alumni/ae, and friends to reflect on their experiences with programs sponsored by the office or related to its mission. The views expressed in these reflections, and all other blogs found on or linked to from this website, are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of Creighton University, the Creighton Center for Service and Justice (CCSJ), or any of the University’s affiliates. The University and the CCSJ are not responsible for the actions, content, accuracy, or opinions expressed in these blogs.