Only a fringe minority of those of us living here in the United States have experienced any kind of extreme violence. That would be survivors of the shootings that make the news, or witnesses of violent crimes. Things like that. A larger percentage have certainly experienced domestic violence: physical and emotional abuse, constant fear, etc.
So that means that the vast majority of Americans (excluding, say, combat veterans) have never experienced the constant threat of fatal danger on every side.
Imagine, then, that you — and your family and friends — live in a place where you feel lucky if you’ve only witnessed a murder, because most folks have routinely seen the bloody horror of death. A bomb could explode any time you’re just out to the market. Maybe the militants next door will decide you’ve had enough time, and put a bullet in the head of everyone you live with.
You’re caught in the middle. Just a civilian, a normal person who, a few years ago, played soccer in the streets that are now filled with burned out cars and blood-stained rubble.
You wonder what restful sleep feels like. A meal in peace and quiet with your grandparents as they tell stories of the good old days. What’s a stroll down the sidewalk, waving at your friends as they smile back at you? You could get your head blown off if you go out there now.
You desperately want to escape it all, to live a peaceful life again with your family. To have a job and someone to love. To laugh at stupid jokes again, because they’d actually be funny.
But you can’t, because you happen to live within the same borders as terrorists.
I don’t have feelings about many political issues these days, but this one actually makes me feel anger. There are everyday people out there, families, men, women, children, who are running for their lives. And we’re telling them that no, we don’t want you here.
America. The land of the free and home of the brave.
But we won’t let them in, because we’re afraid they’ll bring the baddies with them.
One rotten apple will spoil the whole barrel, you know.
It makes me sad and irritated to see friends, especially Christians, applaud the decision made by some states to disallow Syrian refugees from having safety. Here’s why:
Lack of empathy
empathy – the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
– New Oxford American Dictionary
Those in favor of saying no to Syrian refugees do so because of concerns for security risks. But in the name of shielding ourselves from the remote possibility some evil might befall us because of helping some folks out whose lives are in danger, they have forgotten that those seeking refuge are people not unlike ourselves. They’re people.
Some of this comes from distance, I think. This is over there. We don’t see what’s happening. We don’t smell the stench of rotting death.
And I’m seeing this way too often. For the sake of supporting a political orientation, Christians jump on a bandwagon without considering the very real feelings of others. Whether it’s defending the Confederate flag when it’s being taken down, gun rights when there are families grieving after a shooting, or saying no to refugees because the “left” wants to let them in… I keep seeing people who are nowhere near the context of events have very strong opinions they fight for.
I was going to say that conservatives are lacking in imagination, due to the inability to imagine Syrians as people like ourselves. But really, the imaginations in this case are overactive — running to the worst possible scenario.
Think of the risks! The dangers! Terrorists could come with them!
True. There’s risk. Yes, terrorists could come with them. Anything’s possible.
But there are already plenty of dangers here. It’s not worth lumping the innocent majority in with the evil minority, when their lives are on the line. Saying no to refugees could literally mean death for many of them.
I don’t have a good answer for how to help them once they get here. Maybe we take a risk and open our lives and homes to them? Maybe we could, you know, show them love?
There is a great disconnect between following the lifestyle & teachings of the New Testament, and the fearful reactions I’m seeing. Besides the obvious fact that innocent people who we should be helping without question are being turned down, even if enemies were to sneak in with them:
What happened to “love your enemies“? or
“Be merciful“? or
Again, I don’t have answers for whenever they get here. There are risks that would have to be taken, but life is full of risk. Safety isn’t guaranteed, even *gasp* here in America. So maybe, just maybe we can risk our necks to give some innocent people a chance at life and love.
Image of children in composite above is by Basma from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and came from Wikimedia Commons.