World Refugee Day

11 June, 2018

By Terri MacKenzie, SHCJ, editor of the website Ecospirituality Resources

Where do they come from, these human beings who so upset “natives” of many countries who themselves might date to immigrants?

They are escaping from war and persecution in Syria; they are fleeing genocide in Myanmar (Burma), overwhelming resources in Bangladesh; they are leaving El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to escape gangs  — ironically, the same gangs some are accused to being members of, but with no evidence — drugs and rapes; they are among the  millions of displaced people fleeing civil war in South Sudan. Many are displaced from climate catastrophes and/or the inability to care for their families due to the global economy. Who among us would choose to stay?

Rarely do they want to leave their countries, which they love. They leave loved ones, homes and neighborhoods, jobs or professions, native languages, food and culture, because their situations are desperate. They are willing to take any work and face any risk, including death.

Fear of “the other” sometimes stems from fear that migrants will alter their culture. This is especially ironic if they consider their culture Christian. Welcoming the stranger, feeding the hungry, loving the enemy are intrinsic to practicing that religion. Stopping criminals in any group is essential, of course, but assuming all immigrants are dangerous is irrational at best.

Migrants and refugees fear for their lives and the welfare of their children. I fear that the Western world is forming a culture of hate and exclusion, where only certain people are valued — or even recognized as humans. The Universe Story affirms that we are all one. Evolution proves the advantages of biodiversity.

Many countries deny refugees entrance, even when groups within the country are eager to practice their religion by caring for them. They are stereotyped and labeled negatively, as governments have done for centuries to justify inhumane actions. The ancestors of many in the United States were stereotyped and labeled when they first arrived. (“Irish needn’t apply,” and so on.) Billions of dollars that could be spent to help them is spent on walls to keep them — and animals and insects that need to roam — out. In a particularly inhumane response, children are separated from parents and kept from families – and getting lost in the system. How would we react if our children or grandchildren were taken from their parents and warehoused?

Like many, I am taking various actions in response. My reaction also overflowed with this poem:

Welcome to America

What happens to interbeing
when policies separate parents from children
whose only crime was escaping
death, gangs, and violence?

What happens to the atoms we all share
making us one? How do they choose
between good and evil when rival groups
are so sure others are wrong?

Scripture is unequivocal:
Care for the homeless,
the displaced, the poor regardless of origin,
regardless of ability to pay.

“See how these Christians love one another”
has morphed to “You can’t come.
You’ll be badly punished if you try.”
Forget “Do unto others….”

Wrong skin. Wrong language. Wrong pedigree.
For you, no refuge, no medical care,
no education, no compassion
despite our need for youth and labor.

The Irish learned they needed
more than white potatoes. Prairie farmers,
seeding only wheat, grew sandstorms.
What happens when we plant mono-life?