It’s difficult for people of reason, conscience and compassion to know what to say and think about the refugee crisis that is so threatening here and so real abroad. Scrolling down news sites such as NBC, one discovers no end to pathetic pictures of people waiting to cross borders. The ones with little children touch my heart the most. Those of angry young men are frightening, perhaps they should not be so. Winter is coming on, people will be suffering, some dying, maybe many will die, most of the dead, children. This will be unconscionable, our own holocaust in history’s judgment. A global catastrophe looms that’s too big to deal with. And the fear of terrorists coming in is real, both the fear and the threat. Our government is foolish to stomp over the people's fear instead of facing it and responding. For myself, I’ve lost all confidence in government's competence to deal with the situation while also dealing with a priority of trying to keep Americans feeling safe a little longer. Of course, we fool ourselves: terrorist cells are already here, waiting for the word. In another place and generation they would already have been rounded up, information extracted, and interned or executed. It can still be done: do we want that?
Speaking of and frighteningly, the refugee situation is feeding right wing extremism in Germany, where guilt should stir the national conscience forever, but where seventy years have not washed away their core aryan contempt of foreigners and people of other races, people who are different. Nor am I sure we are cleaner in America as both Right and Left shriek with hatred, the Left with hatred of the Right, the Right with hatred born of fear. But the fear is reasonable and human: we hate and fear those who hate, threaten and hurt us. At some point perhaps we will better understand how they feel in Israel, the rage, the fear, the hatred and determination. Sadly, the government is doing nothing to teach, inform and assure the people, rather the government is as arrogant as dictators, not of, by, and for the people. And the biggest fools are not government but common American citizens who are adamantly certain they are correct, both Right and Left. At the moment, the Left is more arrogant and certitudinous.
What to do? I don’t know. I do know that I would rather at this time in this crisis have government led by a president who is not timid, who knows that those who hate us cannot be discouraged and contained and frightened away into submission. I want leadership who remember that war is fought to be won, But neither do I want the egotistical, populist raving dog, an arrogant, pompous, blustering, know-nothing madman. I Like Ike but I don't see him.
Here are a couple of voices of calm.
November 18, 2015
Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop and Primate Michael B. Curry addresses the current Syrian refugee crisis:
“Be not afraid!”
Often in the gospels, fear grips the people of God, and time and again, either the angels, or Our Lord himself, respond with the same words of comfort: “Be not afraid.”
In times like this fear is real. And I share that fear with you. Our instinct tells us to be afraid. The fight-or-flight mentality takes hold. At the present moment, many across our Church and our world are grasped by fear in response to the terrorist attacks that unfolded in Paris last Friday. These fears are not unfounded. We can and should support law enforcement officials who are working hard and at great risk to protect us from crime and keep us safe. And yet, especially when we feel legitimate fear, our faith reminds us “Be not afraid.” The larger truth is that our ultimate security comes from God in Christ.
In the Book of Leviticus, God says to the people of Israel that, “the foreigner who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the foreigner as yourself, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt.” Accordingly, we welcome the stranger. We love our neighbor. The Episcopal Church has long been committed to resettling refugees in our own communities fleeing violence and persecution.
The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, through its Episcopal Migration Ministries service, works with dioceses and congregations, and the United States government, to settle refugees in communities across this great country. The Episcopal Church has been engaged in this ministry for more than 75 years. We will not let the nightmare this world often is keep us from carrying out the words of Jesus who told us to be a neighbor to those in need.
Refugees from places like Syria seek to escape the precise same ideological and religious extremism that gave birth to the attacks in Paris. They seek entry into our communities because their lives are imprisoned by daily fear for their existence. Just as Jesus bids us not to be afraid, we must, in turn, pass those words of comfort to those who turn to us for help.
But Jesus calls us to go even further: not just to love our neighbors and our kin, but to love our enemies. This is particularly difficult when we are afraid. But even in the midst of our fear we stand on the solid ground of our faith and proclaim the faith in Christ crucified and risen from the dead. In practical terms, this may mean finding strength in prayer, or in our neighbors, or in our churches, or in acts of solidarity with others who live in fear. This is the hope that casts out fear.
The fear is real. So we pray. We go to church. We remember who we are in Jesus. Our resurrection hope is larger than fear. Let nothing keep us from that hope, that faith, that security in Gods dream for all of humanity.
“Be not afraid!”