When I was young my father attended seminary outside of Boston. Since he was going to school and my mother was trying to raise two young children we lived in campus housing for families. What I remember most about this time of my life is the amazing number of different cultures we were surrounded by. At the time I was so young I truly had no concept that these people were different from my family.
(Except for the fact they had some interesting choices of cuisine I had never seen… turtle soup anyone?)
I was never frightened by the color of their skin or judged them based on their accents; I had no concept that this was even something people felt they had to right to judge someone by. These people were our neighbors, their children were my play mates, and our ‘block’ parties were full of food, laughter, and neighborly love. I look back and I think about how lucky I was to grow up, even for a small amount of time, around people from all over the world and from all different walks of life. So many people don’t ever experience anything outside of people who look, act, eat and have the same religious and political beliefs as them. They don’t experience any world, except their own, and that makes them fearful; fearful of men, women, and children fleeing unspeakable atrocities. People who have experienced more pain than we would ever be able to comprehend in a country like ours. And I ask myself, why are we so afraid of these people? Why can’t we understand there are bad people in the world and that their skin color, country of origin, or religion, are not deciding factors of what makes someone evil?
There are plenty of things to fear in this country. I have been in church, gym movie theater and checked the exit doors, or felt nervous when I see what appears to be a suspicious person. Why? Because people have died in those places at the hands of Americans, at the hands of people who found access to weapons and wanted others to suffer for their pain or plight in life. I walk to my car late at night, I hear a noise, or see someone wondering the parking lot, and suddenly my pace quickens because as a female it is often scary to be alone at night. There are fears everyday, in this country, and they are related to people who were born and raised here. Evil people exist in every race, every gender, every country, and every religion.
We can’t live life in fear of all the bad people in the world and turn our backs on people who really genuinely need help. We can’t call ourselves good people then only be willing to help when we are comfortable with the color of their skin, their religion, or their country of origin. These people are fleeing evil, they are fleeing the hell they have lived in everyday for years. I see people who call themselves religious donate to mission trips, go on mission trips, or send gifts to children in other countries but see these refugees as possible terrorists. Why? What makes them different from those you are willing to help? Is it because it is easier to care for someone from far away or from a place you can remove yourself from? Probably. The people who want to turn away refugees are not bad people, they are fearful. They are allowed to be. But unfortunately fear seems to be the main political tactic used and it discourages real, factual, intelligent discussion. Do we need to be smart about how we move forward? Of course. But does that mean closing our doors completely? I hope not.
I thank God that he allowed me that time in the apartment complex and that he gave me an opportunity to go to Egypt to experience the culture when I was in college. I am lucky to have experienced worlds outside of my own. I was also blessed to have parents who encouraged me to love all my neighbors, not just the ones in my own country, but throughout the world. These experiences make me think about the fact that in this country there is a five year old who is not allowed to play with her or his neighbor because of the color of their skin or their religion. I think about what that child loses, what fears we engrain in them at such an early age, what hate that child grows up with. I think about the things I learned growing up in church, that Jesus tells us to take care of those who are in need of help, to be good Samaritans, in this country and throughout the world. I think about a family, who found hope knowing they would finally be moved to a country that could protect them, only to be turned away.
I think about those parents who sit up at night and fear what might become of their children if they have to live in a war torn country. I envision a father carrying his two dead children from the Mediterranean Sea because he was trying to protect them by fleeing the only country they had ever known. I pray for change. I pray for evil to disappear off the face of this earth. But I also know for evil to cower to the good, there must be people standing up for what is right. There must be people willing to take a chance on saving lives. There must be a concerted effort to love, even in the darkest times, because without love there is no hope, and because where there is no hope evil will thrive.
Looking for a way to help these people in need this holiday season?
Rebekah Hibbert is a Certified Athletic Trainer who works on getting athletes ready for their sport and taking care of them after they are hurt. She is passionate about women’s issues and sharing that passion through various social media outlets and is a part-time blogger trying to share my knowledge and experiences while connecting with others.
Connect with Rebekah… www.therealgirlgrind.blogspot.com