This post is going to have little or nothing to do with crafting of any kind, but I need to spill about how I’ve been feeling for the last few days. The world is a mess, and I am sad, but that’s only the start of my feelings.
There’s been a lot of anti-refugee rhetoric out there, and I think it really mostly comes from a place of fear. Don’t get me wrong, terrorism is scary! (it’s actually in the name, right? :P) But I don’t think we should let our fear of reprisals from Daesh (I’m not calling them ISIS because that lends them false legitimacy and is also what they prefer to be called, and I’m not inclined to give them ANYTHING they want.) keep us from being compassionate to those who are running from them. We actually have a pretty great vetting process for refugees, which would be used to screen any Syrian refugees this country accepts. This article does a pretty good breakdown of different ways for people to get into this country because they’re running from something crappy in their country, and the refugee vetting process is a more stringent process. If you read the article, you’ll also see that cases of terrorism or attempted terrorism are pretty rare in general, not just among refugees. I’m totally great with a stringent vetting process, but I don’t think that we should just unilaterally block immigration because we’re frightened. I’m not asking anyone to not be scared, because the world is a scary place, especially right now. I just want a little more rationality when thinking about these issues, a little knowledge of statistics, a little less allowing our emotions to rule our decision making.
Of course, now I’ll go straight into an emotional appeal 😛 Let me tell you about my friend Mohammed. Mohammed is one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. He worked with Greg for a while, and they became very close. He would even refer to Greg as “my brother.” Every time I saw him, he would give me the biggest bear hug imaginable, picking me up off the ground as I laughed with glee. We had differing opinions on some topics, and came from different cultural contexts, but every discussion I ever had with him was marked by civility, respect, and friendship. This guy was completely and absolutely filled with love. When he smiled at people, it wasn’t a mere upward tilt of the lips, he would beam at them, and this was true of everyone, even strangers. I went out with Mohammed many times, and I personally saw that some people scowled, some people averted their gazes, and some people just looked uncomfortable, for no other reason than that he was a large middle-eastern man. However, all he would ever say about Americans was that people were very kind, and he and his family were grateful to be here. He looked for the good in the world, not the bad.
Mohammed and his family moved to the US from Lebanon, because of the unrest there. I’m sorry that he had to leave his home, but I will freely admit that my life would be a poorer thing if I had never met him. When I think about the refugees from Syria, I see my friend, and I want to extend compassion.
If we let our fears strip away our compassion and humanity, the terrorists win. They want a divided and fearful world. Will we give that to them? I won’t. I refuse, as I mentioned earlier, to let them have anything they want on principle. If my tax dollars go to helping someone else, I consider that to be a win, no matter who’s in office. Way more of my tax dollars go towards the military anyway. I’ve also seen people saying that we can’t take care of any “outsiders” because we have homeless here, and homeless veterans especially, to them I have a few things to say. 1. Nothing in the world is stopping you from caring about more than one thing at a time, so please don’t derail the discussion. 2. This is indeed a big problem, but where was your outrage when it wasn’t a political talking point? There isn’t a finite amount of compassion in the world. We can extend it to both groups, and make efforts to help both, AND WE SHOULD.
A lot of people saying that we shouldn’t offer homes to these refugees also claim to be Christian, and this next paragraph is specifically for them. I imagine that if you went back in time and talked to Jesus about this (and by the way, he probably looked a lot more like a Syrian refugee than he looked like you) he would say “Oh, no, you’re right. I may have simply said ‘Love one another,’ but really what I meant is that you should love one another when it won’t cost you anything. I meant ‘Love one another,’ when the person looks and acts like you, and when they will be grateful for your kindness. ‘Love one another’ only applies to people in your country, and the rest of the world shouldn’t matter at all. You should only love one another when it’s safe and easy. Sorry about the mixup.”
Now, I know that a lot of you are going to be afraid for me now. (Though statistically, you shouldn’t be. I’m much more likely to get hit by a car than to be killed in a terrorist attack, even living in NYC.) However, I’d like to say this. Even if I were to DIE (and really, statistically, it’s super super super unlikely, to the point of being almost irrelevant.) as a result of having an open heart and mind and community, and showing love to people who don’t deserve it, well. There’s way worse reasons to die. I contrast the likelihood of great good happening (high) with bad happening (extremely low) and I cast my vote in favor of letting them in, even though it might mean that I am .000001% less safe.
So, to all the people who are saying stuff like “oh yeah, in theory you’re okay with refugees, but I bet you wouldn’t want them in your community.” To them I say, yes. Yes, they can live in my neighborhood. Yes, they are welcome in my community. Yes, my tax dollars can go to help with resettlement. Yes, Yes, Yes. If you live next door to me, I’ll make you cookies. We can be friends.
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