After Paris: Syrian Refugees Need Our Help

    11.19.15 | Author: The Rt. Rev. Mariann Budde

    After Paris: Remembering Where our Strength Lies

    But wanting to justify himself, the lawyer asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’ Jesus replied, ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead.’   Luke 10:29-30

    I’ve attended a lot of meetings about security this week, and for good reason. For those of us who live or work in places recognized as potential terrorist targets, the events in Paris compel to us take stock, review emergency protocols, and do all we can to ensure our safety.

    We’re all trying to find our way in times of uncertainty and fear. So we protect ourselves as best we can from those who wish to do us harm. We plan and practice what we would do in a crisis. If you haven’t done that preparedness work for awhile, now is a good time for a review.

    It’s also important that we care for one another. In a letter to parents this week, Amy Vorenberg, Head of Beauvoir School, included resources for parents to use when talking to their children about what happened in Paris. You may find here reassurance for yourself as well as your children.

    Showing up in church helps in scary times. Preachers rose to speak last Sunday having searched the Scriptures for words of consolation and perspective. Congregations offered prayers and treated those gathered with particular concern. The same will happen this Sunday. And the Sunday after that.

    In times of uncertainty and fear, we need to remember who we are and where our strength lies.

    Officer Andy Solberg, director of security for the cathedral and its schools, wrote a letter this week reviewing heightened security measures on the cathedral close. But he also reminded us who we are:

    In talking with many of you in an attempt to understand the events that took place in Paris, it’s clear that there probably is no way to put this into any meaningful context.

    Perhaps all we can do is move forward and continue on with our lives, refusing to give in to the fear others hope to spread among us.

    We are a community of schools and places of worship. Schools and churches are where people go to learn about and make sense of the world. Schools and churches are the places that openly and eagerly accept everybody. And we need to keep doing so. We need to keep our hearts and minds open to change, to diversity, to the freedom to speak and the freedom to move about, and to education and acceptance.

    We will not be moved away from those ideas.

    And at the end of a list of things we all can do to create safe environments, Officer Solberg wrote, “Keep an eye out for the very young, the very old, the infirm, or others who we may be able to help.”

    My friends, Syrian refugees are among those we are called upon to help.

    The rush to close United States borders to Syrian refugees is an act of cruelty born of fear. Syrian families, including the very young, very old, and infirm, are fleeing perpetrators of the same violence that Paris experienced on Friday. Calls to deny Syrians entry into the United States hearken back to our nation’s regrettable decisions, in similar moments of fear, to deny Jews fleeing Hitler entry into our land and to imprison Japanese Americans during World War II.

    Closing our borders to Syrians fleeing violence in their homeland is unnecessary given the stringent screening measures already in place for such refugees. Those who wish to do us harm have far easier methods of reaching us. Remember that all of the terrorists identified as of this morning were European citizens. And that as Americans we face far greater risks from our own citizens given access to lethal guns than from Syrian refugees.  

    In times of uncertainty and fear, we need to remember who we are and where our strength lies. As a follower of Jesus, whose example and teachings could not be more clear on welcoming the stranger and assisting those in need, I add my voice to those calling our nation to provide refuge for Syrians fleeing the same violence we seek to protect ourselves from, not turn them away.

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