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Monday, November 16, 2015

The Poor and Politics, Follow Up

Ten weeks ago, I found myself staring at my computer screen, unable to look away from the images of Aylan, three years old, Syrian, perfect in every way from the top of his sweet little head to the soles of his velcro tennis shoes, washed up on shore, dead.  I knew I would never be able to get  the images out of my mind.  As I revisited these images, this afternoon, I could taste the bile threatening to end in vomit, because I am so literally sick about this narrative... still.

Interestingly, some of us started to come together when this story hit the press, and for a moment I felt like there might be some good left in the world.  Maybe we could identify, not necessarily with the tragedy, but with the humanity.  When we looked at Aylan, we didn't want this part of history to repeat itself.  We could help.  We could give.  We could love.

Unfortunately, this has changed, again, for many of us, today.  In the wake of the horrific acts of terrorism in Paris, we have decided that, given the opportunity, we would look Aylan in the face and say, "We're sorry, but we've decided that it's acceptable if you are not safe, because there are some bad people who originate from the same country as you do."  We have decided to be safe, instead.

I'm not saying that we should throw caution to the wind.  If you know me, you know that.  I understand that we must put processes in place that allow us to safeguard against offering safe harbor to terrorists.  But I'm not buying the line that we can't even begin to tell the difference between refugees fleeing for their lives and terrorists sneaking in on their coattails. 

And friends, safety is thinly veiled.

If we think, for one moment, that we don't have home grown terrorists or any number of others who have found a way to cross our borders, we are fooling ourselves.  If you look at the big picture, rejecting all Syrian refugees, out of hand, doesn't actually meaningfully increase our safety.

But what if it did?  Even if rejecting the Syrian refugees guaranteed that we would be 100% safe, would it be the right thing to do?  Of course not, because we are not called to live a life of safety.  We are called to live a life of love.  That's dangerous.  You don't have to look much further than the life of Jesus to see that.  And yet, somehow, we have forgotten that comfort is not a virtue... or a right... or a need.

My heart is breaking, today, at our response to the poorest of the poor, displaced, homeless, innocent, fleeing evil with no hope for the future.  I know that many good people will disagree with me, but my conscious cannot be clear unless I say what I believe to be true about our purpose and calling in this.  In addition, talk is cheap, so I am linking to a blog post, here, that my friend Sharon shared some time back.  At the end of her post, you will find several links to practical ways to help the Syrian Refugees.


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