Thursday, November 26, 2015

Let's Welcome Refugees in the Spirit of Thanksgiving

by Pa Rock
Descendant of Refugees

There was a human interest piece in yesterday's local paper in which a reporter asked over fifty area citizens what they were thankful for.  As could be expected, many of the responses focused on family and health, but some ranged a bit further out.  One fellow said that he was thankful for "Fallout 4" and Adele.  Another person, a lady who is actually someone I know, listed a couple of things related to freedom, family, and health - and added - "not being a refugee."

I thought that was an interesting way to twist the current situation with all of the flap over whether to welcome refugees from Syria - or not - or under what conditions.  Some say bring them in because we are, after all, a nation built by refugees and inhabited almost exclusively by the descendants of refugees.  Many add that it is the "Christian" thing to do.

Others rail up against the concept of allowing refugees in, particularly individuals from Islamic countries or of the Muslim faith.  They, too, invoke Christianity (their unique brand of it) when seeking to deny refuge to outsiders.

And some, like my friend, are just thankful not to be among the displaced as winter closes in.

Many of the Syrian refugees still seeking asylum are living in crowded, chaotic, and deplorable circumstances.  They are fleeing an area that has been made politically unstable partially as a result of ill-advised American interference.  They need a place to settle, somewhere to call home, and America should be more than willing to open its doors and invite these unfortunates to join us.    That should be who we are as a people because they are who we were as a people.

Will there be some "bad apples" scattered among the new arrivals?  Probably.  Do we breed our own bad apples here - in families that have been citizens of the United States for generations?  Certainly.  Are there measures that we can be taking that would keep everyone in this country safer, regardless of when they arrived?  Absolutely.

I would rather spend my days watching a few Muslims roll out their prayer mats than listening to my Confederate flag-waving neighbors fire automatic weapons - but that's just me.

Immigration pumps new blood and ideas and energy into our nation.  It makes us more relevant and vital in the modern world, and it adds strength and character to the profile of who we are as a people.

The acceptance of others, particularly those in need and without homes, is a fundamental of Christianity.

I am relatively healthy, and so are my children and grandchildren.  I have a dry roof over my head, a full pantry, and plenty of propane to last the winter.  I have a place of safety and permanence in this wild and wicked world, and for that I am very thankful.  But others are not so fortunate.  Centuries ago the pilgrims held a feast of Thanksgiving to praise God for getting them safely to the new world.  Now, as we continue to celebrate that miraculous feat of immigration, we should repay that original divine kindness by helping today's refugees gain the same foothold in their own new world.

(And just for the record, I also am thankful for Adele!)

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