This is the talk about #Refugees that I gave on Saturday, June 2, 2018 at the Archdiocese of Atlanta Eucharistic Congress. We all need to advocate on the behalf of those who have no voice!
#WorldRefugeeDay is a day of action! Through #CatholicRelief, #GlobalCitizen and other organizations, we have the confidence that we can make a difference of people who are suffering from displacement, terror and fear. Continue reading “Another #WorldRefugeeDay”
For many years I have been a big fan of TED Talks. I find that the talks generally live up to the TED slogan “Ideas Worth Sharing.” I don’t agree with every speaker and I don’t find all of the talks equally stimulating; but I usually learn something, find a unique perspective or discover a new way to think about the world that we all live in.
This week in something of a surprise, Pope Francis gave a talk to TED 2017 that was entitled The Only Future Worth Building Includes Everyone. In a world that is increasingly divisive, nationalistic, partisan, and fearful, the Pope makes a strong argument that each person can be a messenger of hope and all of our individual “yous” can be come a collective “us” to address the needs of our world and time. Regardless of your faith tradition or no faith tradition his talk is compelling and worth a 17 minute investment of time. If you would prefer to read his comments rather than listen to them they may be found here: His Holiness Pope Francis at TED2017
#Refugees who are fleeing persecution or the violence and destruction of war deserve to be welcomed. As I have stated before, it is in the National DNA of the American people to come to the aid of those who are in need, oppressed or desperate for safety. When we have failed to live up to this National instinct, we have found ourselves on the wrong side of history and later spoke of our profound regret. Take for instance, our country’s rejection of Jews fleeing Nazi Germany. After turning them away, many ended up dying in concentration camps at the hands of those they were trying to escape from. We recall that time and action with shame.
Hostility toward people in need is not an American characteristic or virtue. Neither is cowardice. Historically, Americans are willing to not only speak for those in need, but we have been willing to take risks to protect them. I like to think of our country like the man who is willing to take a personal risk and step into difficult situations to protect those who are more vulnerable. It is the country that we have tried to be in my lifetime. But things are changing.
President Trump’s ill conceived, poorly executed, and legally questionable Executive Order barring refugees seeking safety in the United States, is an act of both hostility and cowardice that is antithetical to our American tradition. Americans should be appalled, but for some reason 30%-40% of us are are not. We should ask ourselves, ‘Is the extremely low probability of a terrorist entering the country a fair balance against the pain and suffering of millions of people?’ My answer is, ‘It is not.’ To let people suffer and die because we might have the slight risk of harm is not an American virtue, it is cowardice.
For a real look at the “dangerous” people that so many Americans are so very afraid of, take the time to view the documentary: 4.1 Miles. It was made by Daphne Matziaraki and has been nominated for an Academy Award. After watching it, just ask yourself, do these people deserve our hostility or should we really have such great fear of them. I hope your answer on both questions is a firm NO! Let’s tell our leaders that we can do more, bear more and be welcoming and brave Americans.
Deep within each of us is a moral compass. We can look at that compass and follow it or not; that is called free will. It is interesting how instinctive and easy it is for children to follow the moral direction it points with compassion and heartfelt sympathy for others. A six-year old New York boy named Alex saw the picture of little Omran Daqneesh in the back of an ambulance in Aleppo, Syria and was moved with compassion. He was so moved that he wrote a letter to President Obama asking the President to go get Omran and bring him to the U.S. so that Alex’s family “will give him a family and he will be our brother.” The moving story of Alex’s plea can be found here: Alex’s Letter to the President.
Deep within each of us is a moral compass. Like Alex, we each should follow it; it will help us navigate to a better world.
A few months ago I posted from a blog written by a woman who goes by the name JustAScottishGirl. She has spent the better part of the past 10 months working with the refugees who are coming ashore on the island of Kos, Greece. Today she posted another poignant piece reflecting on her time there and the successes and failures she has witnessed. It is well worth reading.
Memories are funny things, they sneak up on you when you least expect, making you feel want to have a little cry in the middle of dinner or making you burst out laughing when you are with…
Read it all here: Remembering…
This Commentary was authored for The Georgia Bulletin and was published on July 7, 2016. Please read the full commentary at: Deacon Steve Swope’s Georgia Bulletin Commentary on Refugees.