Syrian Refugees: Have We Lost Our Decency?

I’m going to start this blog post with a fact I’m not proud of: I’m conflicted.

Most of the time I study an issue until I’m blue in the face, then come to a conclusion, and finally type out my opinions for any unfortunate soul who stumbles upon my posts. I’m alright with those that disagree, and I adore open discussions and feedback, but usually I have a reasonable level of confidence in my position before I type it out. This is different.

I haven’t said much about Syrian refugees, because to be honest the opinions I have are probably not the most popular at this point. The only post I wrote on the refugees was a story about a capsized ship, and it barely touched on politics. However, yesterday I watched the posts flood my Facebook – my news feed was disturbing and heart wrenching. People are angry, and understandably so, but I hope those who read this understand where my heart is upon its completion, even if they disagree.

I spent two hour on Sunday night just scrolling through photos and bios of those killed in Paris, and as my heart broke I prayed that it would not also harden. This blind rage seems to me to be misdirected for so many, and I never want to be consumed by the anger I so often witness. I try to share my opinions and conclusions in a lighthearted matter, and in an inviting way, and I refuse to let my heart be filled with hatred towards those that oppose me.

When confronted with issues I want to see the dirtiest aspect, I want to be exposed to the impact of my stance, and then I want to take a deep breath and begrudgingly come to conclusions that I often don’t like myself. When it comes to abortion, I want to acknowledge the girl who was sexually abused, not just the stats on a page. When it comes to illegal immigration, I want to acknowledge the “anchor baby” riding her bike down my street, firmly grasping her teddy bear and totally oblivious to what some would want to put her family through, not just think of the job opening her father would create. And when it comes to Syrian refugees, I want to acknowledge that the men who mercilessly slaughtered 129 beautiful lives in Paris are to blame, not these children:

Syrian refugees in Iraq. Photo Credit: Peter Biro

I’m conflicted.

While I can support the actions of those who are against increasing Syrian refugees in America, I do not have to feel good about it, and I can use my voice to ask that we figure out a way to do something – anything. ISIS militants want us to hate those who have not committed acts of hatred, they want us to live in fear, and they win when we disregard such innocent lives. The acts in France were not perpetrated by refugees, they where committed by those who caused the refugees to flee.

Most Muslims cringe just as we do, they find disappointment in the actions of radical Islamist. Many have said, “Why aren’t they speaking out against it?” So, I went searching for that answer and found that many of them are, they just don’t get coverage. They stand in opposition of the enemy, and they themselves would never commit such a brutal act of savagery. The uncomfortable fact is while they do not condone, they understand the validity behind the acts, and may even admit doctrinal justification. Their inner conflict puts mine to shame.

I’ve often said of Christianity and Islam, “The bible does not support violent Christian radicals, the Quran does support violent Muslim radicals, and therein lies the difference.” I still believe that.

I do not throw every Muslim under the blanket of blame, but that does not mean that I believe Islam is not to blame. Islam in its purest form is an enemy to freedom, to women, and to Western Civilization as a whole. It is a fundamental adversary of all we hold dear in this world, and that cannot be overlooked. There are moderates who do not embrace the full implications of their religion, a religion which under scriptural interpretation justifies the acts of jihadists. Just as there are Catholics who go to church one day a year, and Christians who put the things of this world before their relationship with Christ, there are Muslims who feel the text is misinterpreted. Islam itself demands theocracy, and buried deep beneath the peace loving shell of all moderate Muslims lies such truth. The danger of Islam compared to Christianity, despite all sermons on the crusades and executed abortionists, is found in the fact that Islam can only reach its full potential where Theocracy flourishes, and Christianity can only reach its full potential where Theocracy is dead. The Christian lifestyle is a choice, Islam is a mandate.

Islam calls for the death of those who “fight against” the teachings, but there lacks determination as to what that actually entails. The moderates translate it in the way they see fit, and the radicals translate it in the way they see fit. Islam is based off of levels of worth; be it the enslaved woman, the filthy sexual deviant, or the infidel, the worth of their soul is measured by the dedication of their beliefs. The translations are taken very seriously, both to the moderate and the radical. The Paris jihadists are justified, and the moderates are justified, by their own translations. That is why the majority of people being slaughtered by ISIS are Muslims who refuse to join them in unity. We can call out Islam for the dangerous religion that it is, and also recognize that there are those so dedicated to their set of peaceful principles that they have watched their children be beheaded, their women be tortured, and their men be executed, because they stand in opposition to those who live by the sword.

Christianity, in its purest form, is the dedication to see all individuals as loved, and as worthy. In its most raw interpretation, it is a belief of redemption and equality, when truly understood. And it is because of this that I come to my next conclusion:

How can I, as a Christian, not see worth in the Syrian refugees? Can I not have compassion for the innocent lives caught in a political battle?

I have watched my Christian friends express their disdain for the Syrian refugees for months. I have listened on as they said, “Just leave them over there, and let the toxic religion eat itself alive.” I bit my tongue when they said we should make the Middle East a parking lot, not bring the people here. While I believe the peace loving majority is irrelevant to the discussion on radical Islam, I believe all human beings being victimized are very relevant, regardless of their religion.

I understand why governors, politicians, and the people of this nation do not want to welcome Syrian refugees, and maybe that’s the right choice, and maybe I even find it in my heart to support that choice, but maybe it’s the wrong choice, but I know deep down that I should hate it regardless of whether it’s the right or wrong choice. I hate that I can’t come to a conclusion, and I pray that those putting up the “closed” sign have the decency to demand that we act against ISIS for the sake of those living in terror. I can’t understand, nor condone, hatred for the innocent people being terrorized by the same monsters that cause us to fear. If we want to defeat evil, anger, and hatred, we have to stop embracing it.

I don’t have the perfect answer for this crisis, I don’t have the perfect conclusion wrapped in a lighthearted post with one-liners and witty answers – I’m conflicted on what the answer is. But there is a part of this debate where I’m not conflicted, and it’s the reason why I finally wrote this post, even though I knew that many friends may disagree. I know that whatever the solution is, it must be allowed or enforced with compassion. From the Christian point of view, the good shepherd leaves the 99 for the sake of one. I’m not suggesting we needlessly put our innocents at risk for the sake of their innocents, (thus a good portion of the internal conflict!) but I do think we need to understand that just because one in a hundred refugees may be terrorists in disguise, it cannot dictate a hatred for the 99. If we let blanket hatred rule the day, we will most assuredly lose the day. Even if it feels like victory.

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