I’m three days late writing this week, because I had no idea what to say. I felt like I could not write what I initially started, given the terrible events we have watched unfold around the globe. I also felt I could not find anything to say about the attacks in Paris and the rest of the world that hasn’t been said. So with that, I am going to try my best to be short and to the point.
Before I continue, please take a moment and watch the video linked below. The language is colorful, and it may be a tad comical, but I believe it is a sentiment we can all share:
John Oliver is exactly right. They’re assholes. While that is a very light hearted way of looking at an incredibly heavy subject, I appreciate so much that as colorful as he was he didn’t jump on a political bandwagon. He didn’t try to lecture his viewers on why these attacks did or did not reflect Islam as a whole. He didn’t condemn anyone except the men responsible for so much death and pain.
I grappled for days with what to say, then I saw a video that moved me, please take a moment and watch this man’s story:
All I can say is that is the most incredibly powerful response to the most incredibly devastating event. Their attacks accomplished exactly what they wanted them to. We’re afraid. We are terrified of ISIS like we’ve never been before, and rightly so. They are a scary organization. However, I don’t want them to be the focus of my writing today. They don’t deserve my attention, my anger or my hatred. They don’t deserve any of it, and I will be damned if they get it.
On the night of the attacks I spoke with a good friend about how people react to these horrors. We both talked about how we remembered 9/11, we talked about how we would most likely remember the attacks that night. We also came to a point I had never considered. The urge to simply be angry and respond with more violence and hatred is a knee jerk, childlike reaction. One that, if we are all honest, we’re probably guilty of to some degree.
For the last week now, we’ve watched as congressmen, senators and governors have all called to turn away refugees due to an increased threat of terrorism. I will admit, due to that knee jerk reaction at first I agreed in many ways.
I’ve been trying very hard to think about the big picture. I’m trying very hard to picture what ISIS is trying to do. I’m trying very hard to think about where the West and the United States fit in that picture. I think ISIS and terrorists all over the world believe they have found a chink in our armor. They will use our compassion and our values against us, and here is how.
They are going to create a conflict between what we tell the world we stand for and our own safety. ISIS did not create the refugee crisis the world faces today. There is no way that they could have engineered a humanitarian crisis that is at least fifteen years in the making. I won’t be foolish enough to give them that much credit. I do think however, that I would be mistaken to not believe they will take advantage of it.
There are thousands upon thousands of innocent and well-meaning men and women coming to western nations from all over the Middle East. Among them, will be doctors, attorneys, simple merchants. There will be people coming from wealth and poverty, and yes there will be members of ISIS among them as well. This raises the question:
Do we let refugees in? Or, do we send them back?
We have a choice to make. Our values and integrity are directly being questioned. We are the city on the hill. We are supposed to be the light of freedom to the rest of the world. We have two options right now to reflect that light to the rest of the world. Will we be the city on the hill that leaves a gate open to help the thousands in need, even though leaving that gate open requires immense personal risk and sacrifice, or will we be the city on the hill that builds a 300 foot wall and seals them self in while thousands more die on the other side?
I don’t know what we will do ultimately. I don’t know what the right thing to do even is.
It is very possible that the United States’ supposed values should lead us to keep that gate open. We’re fighters, but not just on our own behalf. We should never claim to fight for freedom and liberty if we are only preserving freedom and liberty for ourselves. Doing so in its very nature tyrannical. Our founders never intended for this country to be the greatest nation in the world. They never intended for us to essentially run the world economy. We arrived at this point by standing for our values.
What is more important to us now? Is it our position as the military and economic powerhouse of the world, or is it our values? Are we really willing to secure ourselves by turning away thousands of human beings? Most likely sending them back to their homelands where they face incredible desperation and in many cases death. Is it the right thing to open our borders and bring in the multitude of the innocent along with the minority of the guilty? Is it more important for us to be 100% safe, or compassionate and merciful?
I honestly believe that the time for political debate and solution to this problem is over. Whether we like it or not, the United States we are trying so hard to preserve will one day cease to exist as we know it. I don’t know why, I don’t know how but history tells me it will. When that day comes and goes, the things we will be remembered by will be the things that we stood for.
We are trying to have the national debate over refugees from a view point of ‘we are the biggest and the best, and we will always be the biggest and the best’. We quickly need to determine if our current convenient and relatively safe way of life has taken the place of liberty and justice for ALL. When we are no longer the world leading super power we are today for whatever reason, what we valued in times like these will be what historians write about us.
If we turn the refugees away, we will be required to take the fight to ISIS and stop them in Iraq and Syria. If we allow refugees a safe haven here, we are still going to need to eventually take the fight to ISIS, but we do increase the risk of that fight finding its way to our homes. No matter what decision we make, it is all in vain unless we decide to confront the root of the problem. Nothing changes as long as ISIS and their perverted ideology are allowed to exist.
Before we are too quick to politicize this issue, it’s very important we consider every option. Not a single aspect of the crisis we face is cut and dry. I don’t know what the best decision is. It is an impossible one. My only prayer is that as time moves on we can reflect and say we made the right choice. In the meantime, I pray for France and I pray for the world.