“Yes, but would you let the Syrian refugees into our country? Yes or no?” I pressed my husband.
“Why are we talking about this again? This is two nights in a row now,” my husband replied.
I wanted to scream. WHAT DO YOU MEAN WHY ARE WE TALKING ABOUT THIS AGAIN?!
This is what’s going on in the world right now. In our country.
It is important, and so we will talk about it.
Ever since Paris was attacked last Friday I have been on a roller coaster of emotions.
At first I was scared. Then outraged.
But as the talk of the nation has turned to whether or not we should accept Syrian refugees, the overwhelming emotion I feel is disappointment in my fellow Americans.
Do the people who say we should not let Syrian refugees into our country not understand that the fundamental purpose of the United States was to be a safe haven for those seeking refuge?
THAT’S HOW WE ALL CAME HERE.
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses,” reads the Statue of Liberty. I guess that no longer applies now?
A common refrain I’m hearing is, “Our country needs to help our own homeless veterans instead of Syrian refugees.” I see this one plastered on Facebook a lot.
I agree– we should help our nation’s homeless veterans. After all, they fought for America to remain a place of freedom. Freedom for all. ALL. Like those fleeing from other countries where they are being terrorized.
But I’m curious if all the people talking about how we need to help veterans have always been such frantic supporters of this population. Or if it’s just something to say now in response to “why we can’t help the Syrian refugees.”
My family has supported the Vietnam Veterans of America charity for the past several years, donating thousands of dollars in clothing and household items. Every month we schedule a pick-up and they come pick up our donation. It’s simple and I highly recommend it.
And– get this– we are still able to donate to the Syrian refugees. A town near us is collecting blankets and children’s winter coats for the refugees.
I know. It’s crazy, right?
Because it seems like there is this misguided notion that it’s between helping the veterans OR helping the Syrian refugees. Which is absolutely ridiculous.
Slamming the door in the face of refugees would betray our deepest values. That’s not who we are. And it’s not what we’re going to do.
— President Obama (@POTUS) November 18, 2015
If you’re going to say we should support the veterans instead, then that’s your prerogative. But if that’s your stance, then I challenge you to actually do something to help the veterans.
Donate to a veterans’ charity. Raise money. Put a wreath on a veteran’s grave like we did when a little girl came selling them door-to-door a few nights ago (which I thought was a much better idea than selling boxes of cookies that I end up demolishing after too much wine).
But what if you’re not using the “we need to help veterans” line when you say that the U.S. should turn away the Syrian refugees?
Maybe you’re just afraid. I get that.
After the Paris bombing, I was worried, too. But the people who bombed Paris were not Syrian refugees.
Did you know there is an extensive screening process for a refugee to enter the United States?
So if you’re going to fear for your life, get the facts straight.
The biggest threat to your life when you’re an American isn’t a terrorist. It’s guns. Guns owned by your fellow Americans.
And then finally there is perhaps the most damning argument in support of welcoming Syrian refugees– the Golden Rule.
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
The basic attitude of being nice to people. Helping them. Loving them.
I look at my two-year-old son sleeping in his bed at night and I get choked up. I can’t even imagine having him make a dangerous hundred-mile journey simply to find a safe place to sleep.
We are so lucky to be Americans and have the privilege of living here. But what if things were different? What if we were in the position where our country wasn’t safe and we were the ones fleeing?
I would hope that other citizens of the world would open their land and say, “Here. Sit down. Let us help you.” And I think that they would.
As for me, I will continue to support the Syrian refugees coming here. I will continue to stick up for these displaced mothers, fathers, children, and babies.
And as always, I will ask, “What can I do? How can I help?” Here’s what I have come up with:
- Get mad about an actual threat to your safety– guns. Do something about that problem.
- Find out how your local community is helping the Syrian refugees and participate.
- Tell your elected officials that you support Syrian refugees coming to America.
- Raise children who will love their neighbors and stand up for what is right.
This has the potential to be a defining moment for the United States.
I can only hope and pray that we will be defined by a decision to do right and accept the Syrian refugees onto our soil, because we need more love in this world. Not more hate.