First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
~Pastor Martin Niemöller
Read a wonderful article today on TIME’s Person of the Year, Angela Merkel, whose rise to this hallowed spot in history in part is due to her acceptance of 1 million Syrian refugees within Deustchland’s borders. She was called a traitor and/or a whore by some of her people. Just the simple interaction here is a perfect metaphor for the current issues found all over our modern world, but the only question I’m still baffled at is why are people so mad at those willing to help the refugees?
If you had to leave your wartorn homeland with, in extremely lucky instances, a whole backpack full of possessions–note: lucky enough to have just a backpack–Americans would either go to Canada or Mexico (and we know how much of a shining review we get in our neighboring countries). Not knowing anyone or anything, I’d certainly need a little help to get on my feet, at least a week or two just to calm down and focus on living. I’d have to learn a whole new language, get used to different laws, find a community, start all over again. I’m guessing that scenario is the same for 75% of our country. So, for a moment, put yourself in their shoes:
There you are, knocking at the door of a stranger, praying they let you in and lock the door behind you before another missile hits or gunfire peppers the street you’re standing on, and give you a roof, four walls, and a pillow that’s not a landmine. Instead, the door cracks inward, a wary eye peers out at your haggard face and whispers, “Sorry, you could be one of them,” then slams it shut and throws the latch on you. Equally, I could understand their fear. It hypothetically would be the same fear coursing through my own veins, not knowing which of my fellow humans is so far gone that suicide and calculated acts of mass destruction come as easy as breathing. America was founded on freedom. What does it say to our political ancestors that we turned away the helpless in their time of need because we’re blaming the shackles of terror?
Reacting is how THEY win. Acting is how HUMANITY wins.
Angela Merkel gives me great heart: that someone born of a world where cultural and national walls were the norm can turn into a leader of strength, patience, and compassion. It reminded me of the IT mantra I was taught long ago: we’re not just fixing computers, we’re also fixing people. We can give people a working PC again, and they’ll be able to work for a day, but if we teach them how to fish–er, teach them how to fix their usage of the PC–they’ll be able to work for their lifetime. Taking action is resolving the situation so we don’t have refugees to react to in the first place. How do we go about fixing it? We teach people to be leaders in strength, patience, and compassion.
-Don’t teach stereotypes. Don’t even give them the time of day. This breeds the ignorance that every Christian/westerner thinks all Middle Easterners/Muslims are terrorists. All American southerners are backwards hicks, secretly planning for the Confederacy to rise again. All whites are privileged. All eastern Europeans are cold and unloving. I can’t believe more of us aren’t sick of this by now.
-Teach acceptance. Differing opinions and views don’t mean one is better than the other. So what if your god comes in bite-sized snacks and drinks on Sunday? So what if your god is an elephant man? So what if you’re not a guy or girl? So what if your skin is lighter? We can still get along and not impede on each other’s way of life.
-Take away the initial response of violence, ie what Merkel grew up in. Any alien race that looks at our world right now would laugh. “You’re telling me…that if one side kills more of their enemy than the other side does of them…that proves they’re right? Oh that’s rich–hand me the popcorn.” What differences are so great that killing is the only way we can reset to a better place?
-Grow perseverance within our personalities. Not everything is going to be cut and dried, tied up with a bow in a day, or even a week, or even a year. Wars have lasted for years. Why can’t discussions go on for years? Bullets cannot get delicate points across like words can. Weapons only convey fear and hate.
No, this doesn’t mean I sympathize with those who demoralize (insert social group), insult and hinder them, make their nonharmful way of life illegal. I’m saying there’s something deeper that needs attention. Before we safeguard against potential threats, we need to realize that rejecting the refugees is exactly what the terrorists want. WE ARE SPREADING TERROR FOR THEM. We need to quash their ideals before they even take spark, let alone spread like wildfire. We need to work against the core issues of how such a mindset starts, not just slap a bandaid on it by killing them all (ironic as that is). You can kill a human, but you can’t kill an idea–you have to work with ideas to change them for the better, and therefore, we should also work with the human.