I’ve read a number of articles and conversation threads over the past week regarding U.S. acceptance (or rejection) of Syrian refugees. The topic seems to be dividing my Friends List and our country. I completely understand that, as it’s taken me a week to sort my own feelings – which still aren’t entirely fixed. What should be a straightforward no-brainer has become conflict between moral ideologies, personal fears, and religious beliefs. I am sick and tired of seeing threads and memes about Mary and Joseph looking for refuge and being turned away; about how un-Christian it is to turn people away and deny them safety. Let’s remove religion, shall we? Religious perversions are what have us in this mess. You can have your beliefs and I can have mine, but let’s set them aside and look at this from a purely humanitarian standpoint, shall we?
We waited too long during WWII to help 6,000,000 Jews (and an additional 6,000,000 people Hitler deemed “rejects”). I’ve read countless books, watched innumerable documentaries, and viewed a handful of movies on the topic. I don’t want MY children to be reading/watching the same about Syria in 50 years asking, “Why didn’t we help sooner?”, “Why did we allow those children to be separated from their parents?”, “Why did so many people just stand by and watch innocent people die?”
Our perception of the world has greatly changed since 9/11. I understand this and fault no one for having fears which perhaps weren’t there before. The uncertainties have merit, however, it’s important to remember if we let our fears consume us we’re heading to war with ourselves and terrorists win. Instead of being afraid, let’s be smart, make wiser more educated decisions. Get informed, do your homework.
All of the sudden, people who were seemingly aloof to hunger and homelessness in America are wondering why we’d help others before helping ourselves. Good question. But then again, I don’t see too many rushing out to put their money where their mouths are on this one either. The commissioner of the NFL reportedly makes $44 MILLION dollars per year – is FOOTBALL more important to us than who is living on the street in need of food, clothing, and mental health care? Sidebar: why the hell is the NFL League Office tax exempt? The commissioner is just an example – look at any major league sports player and tell me that salary is justified. Survey the income of many CEOs and tell me they’re comprehensible. Congress? Shall we?
“We don’t have enough jobs for the people currently in our country!” Really? Have you TRIED to hire a kid to shovel your walk, mow your lawn, or babysit your kid recently? HA! Don’t even mention dairy farm hands or apple pickers.
In my opinion, should we help Syrian refugees (or any human in imminent danger)? YES. Should we just open the gates and thoughtlessly allow everyone in? NO. There is a term: vetting, known commonly in the workplace as the process of conducting extensive background/character checks. It seems obvious to me that anyone taking in refugees should have an all-encompassing vetting process. Clearly, since 9/11, we can no longer use the Ellis Island approach to accepting immigrants. National safety is no longer a simple matter of ensuring a new comer is healthy and able-bodied.
Am I afraid? YES I AM. I am afraid for the safety of my children, I am afraid of terrorists, I am afraid of murderers and rapists. I am afraid of heights and spiders. I am afraid of getting stung by a bee (allergy). I am afraid child molesters live in my neighborhood. I am afraid my house may catch fire. I am afraid a psychopath may go to my children’s school and shoot up the place. Some days I’m afraid of my children! Does all of this keep me in my house and prevent me from living a full, happy life where I help others if/when I can? Hell no. We are never completely safe. No amount of seat belts, fire alarms, school security systems, weapons laws, sex offender registries, or immigration laws are going to keep us in utopia. Keep your heart closed, but please don’t do it without being educated. Do the homework, then argue your point. I welcome open discussions, thoughts and opinions of others. I don’t have to agree to understand your point; nor do you need to agree with me to hold a civil discussion. We must take the time, patience, and care with each other to understand. Closing each other out will only perpetuate ignorance. We’re all in this short life together. I’d like to think if roles were reversed and my kids and I were in this situation, someone would be there to realize we deserve better.
Freddie Mercury – fled East Africa during the Zanzibar Revolution in 1964
Sigmund Freud and his daughter, Anna – Austrian Jews who fled during WWII
Einstein – German who fled his country when Nazis came to power
Dalai Lama – Fled India in 1959 during the Tibetan uprising