Monthly Archives: November 2015

Continuing the Conversation

Continuing the conversation about the Syrian refugees, I’ve had lots of questions myself. I find it difficult to understand, grasp and form an opinion on current events like this. I think I tend to be so cautious because I know any issue is so much bigger than it appears on the surface. My initial reactions are often not my best. But it takes time to understand such complex issues. It takes a lot of research to find credible sources (I don’t really trust anyone to give fair and balanced information anymore. A sad commentary for another day.)

So the challenge for me becomes; ignore it and leave others to figure it out or dig in and try to better understand the issue. Ignoring it is easier, and frankly the route I sometimes (maybe often) take. There are times I just choose not to try to understand something so complex. I focus my energy on my family, my work and my own To Do list. Other times I spend (likely too much) time trying to understand. Reading articles, looking at the source of information, trying to understand the context and the greater circumstances and ramifications. I am lucky to have really smart friends with really diverse views who share links to a lot of information sources. I love reading different viewpoints!

{On a side note, I really hate the stupid memes that reduce those who see things differently to imbeciles. Things like, “If you think fertilized eggs are people but refugee kids aren’t, you’re going to have to stop pretending your concerns are religious.” You know it’s a gross hyperbole, simplifying and mixing complex issues, trying to evaluate someones Christian-ness and isn’t convincing anyone of anything. For the love of everything that’s holy just STOP! Rant over…for now:)}

As I said, I have had a lot of questions about the Syrian Refugee issue. Below are a couple of my questions along with those I have heard from friends and family and some sources I found helpful in better understanding the situation. Maybe they will be helpful to you as well.

  1. What is the current vetting process for refugees coming to the US? You may have seen a Facebook post by attorney Scott Hicks. I didn’t share it because I had no idea if it was legit. I did a little research and he appears to be real and have personal experience in navigating the refugee process. Here is an article on Patheos that includes the text of his post.
  2. If the vetting process takes so long, how do we already have refugees arriving in the US? This civil war began back in 2011 – 4 1/2 years ago. To date more than 250,000 people have been killed and more than 4 million have fled the country. This article gives a good synopsis of the conflict.
  3. Why not settle them closer to home; the Middle East, North Africa or Eastern Europe? They have. Four million people have fled that country. Nearly 2 million have been taken in by Turkey to date. Other countries in the region (Lebanon, Jordon, Iraq, Egypt and North Africa) have taken in another 2 million. That same article has some good graphics to show where refugees have been going.
  4. If Daesh/ISIS/ISIL isn’t “true” Islam, why aren’t Muslims speaking out against it? They are, we just aren’t reading/listening to them. Muslim leaders all over the world are denouncing these extremist groups. Here are a few of the dozens of articles; leaders, social mediaaverage people and this list of many articles.
  5. What does Islam teach and why are extremists able to hijack that religion? This one is giant and I’ve spent more than a couple hours already today. See what I mean, it takes time to understand the issues! I do know the ‘crazies’ can hijack any religion (think Westboro – not my Christianity!) I’ve got a lot to learn about Islam. I’m going to start with an open mind and these three sources.

I also wonder what I can do to be helpful to the refugees? Where can I make an impact? I’ll have to tackle that research another day.

I would love to hear where you go for information! What sources have you found to be quick, concise and balanced? After all, I have a family, work and my To Do list awaits even when the world is in crisis. Help me be informed on a time budget:).

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Ramblings on Refugees

I’m challenged by the Syrian refugee issue. I don’t know the right answer. On one hand, I feel compassionate to people who live in a horrible place, made that way by war. I don’t believe people deserve to live that way and I don’t believe the majority of them have the power or capacity to change their country/region. As a human and a person of faith, I am called to help, to be compassionate and caring.

On the other hand, as a thinking person living in a free country with a culture vastly different from where this war is taking place, I feel cautious. We have seen many examples of the hate manifested in attacks on innocent people. People who did nothing to deserve it. I feel the need to protect my family, my home and my way of life. I think that’s fair on my part.

How then do I reconcile the two? How does one show compassion for hurting people and at the same time provide safety and security for their own family? I really would like to hear how others have resolved this conflict personally.

My thoughts – First, I think you have to identify if it’s a real threat. Is it the kind of “perceived threat” we feel when we see someone who looks different from us? Or the real threat of someone who likely intends to do harm? I think in this case it’s both. There are desperate people who need help. They need the basics of food, shelter and safety. And among them there are people who are evil. People who will use our compassion against us. People who will give up their own lives to hurt us. Both are real.

It seems this issue is like every other; there are only extremes. My feed is filled with calls to reject all refugees or risk death, to close the borders quickly. And with claims of willingness to open their own homes to refugees, to let them all come. Either you believe the refugees are a threat which makes you a heartless, cruel Christian who picks and chooses when to follow your faith. Or you think we should open the doors wide and welcome everyone in which makes you naïve and willing to risk the freedoms our forefathers fought to gain. People who are against bringing refugees to this country forget what our ancestors went through to get here. People willing to bring refugees to this country forget the danger and evil that exist in the world. There is no in between.

Is bringing refugees to our home, our country the only way to help them? Is there another solution that is somewhere in between? It seems like if we take a breath, step back a moment, we can come up with a solution that cares for those in need and maintains some level of security for this country. (Ya, I know, I’m living in a fantasy world to think anywhere is safe!) At the very least is there a place for conversation without name calling? Is there a place for an intelligent, thoughtful conversation without resorting to hyperbole and extremism? Can we articulate our ideas and opinions with our own words rather than an exaggerated meme? Is it possible to hear someone else’s thoughts and opinions and validate their concerns? Is it so risky to acknowledge that you can understand where someone else is coming from? Or must we shut down and label those who might see the world differently? Is there a place for a real conversation?

I don’t know if that exists anymore.

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