“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in…” Matthew 25:35
Refugees flee their homes because of war, violence, hunger and fear. We cannot avoid the fact that millions of people just like us find themselves on the road with little more than the clothes on their back because of wars and disasters. They are carrying their elders and children, their sick ones, even their animal friends, and a human hope. Hope that somewhere someone will notice in their eyes a family member needing food, shelter, and dignity and offer help.
Might there be some among them who are dangerous to us? Yes. Dangerous people are everywhere. We cannot refuse to help anyone because someone might be dangerous. But that doesn’t change the fact that most are people of good will. And they are not going away. In fact, as war and climate change increase so will the numbers of refugees fleeing. We will have to decide what is more powerful, our fears or our humanity?
When we are mindful we cannot long sustain hate. It is difficult to contain prejudice. It is even harder not to see what is: that there but for fortune go you and I, driven out of our comfortable homes by an unseen threat, finding ourselves in a tide of others, hunted perhaps because of who we are, who we love or what we believe, or perhaps just forsaken by good fortune.
What can we do? If nothing else we can give money to groups (such as UNHCR, www.UNrefusees.org) who provide services to refugees. But more than that we can see in each human being the face of Jesus (as he asked of us), the faces of our children, our grandparents fleeing the Nazis, our own faces. We can resist efforts to demonize or discriminate against refugees by those who seek to use our fears to separate us.
We have to live our values no matter what our fears. If we don’t we will end up losing our humanity.