Thoughts on Terror, Refugees, Racism, Confusion…
It has been a few days since the Paris Terrorist Attacks and we can breathe again. It is ok. Breathe. Between sobs. In the midst of grief…breathe. In your anger…breathe…
We have had a few days to digest it all.
The whole of the western world it seems, has painted itself blue, white and red. “Je suis Paris,” is the rallying cry of a world against ISIS. French President Hollande has stated that this was an act of war by ISIS, and he has lead the charge in decimating the ISIS regime.
I both cheer and cry.
I cheer because I want to see evil decimated.
I cry, well, I cry because it is just godlessness fighting against godlessness. As Doug Wilson said, “The massacre in Paris has brought two things, already obvious, into high relief once again. We are observing, in slow motion, a collision between two very diseased cultures. The diseases are quite different but seem, in some respects, to be made for each other. One disease is listless and the other aggressive. One has no organizing principle, no arche, and the other has the wrong organizing principle. One is idolatrous and polytheistic and the other is idolatrous and monotheistic. One believes that no gods should be honored in the public square while the other believes that only one should be, but that is a false one. One used to be Christian, and must become Christian again, while the other must become Christian.”
As I turn my gaze upon my own country, Canada, the true north strong and free, I don’t know what to think. She too, used to be Christian and must become Christian again. She too, is idolatrous and polytheistic. We have a new selfie-taking leader in Justin Trudeau, who espouses the politicly correct, liberal, tolerant-but-anti-Christian, ideology of the day. He has barely dipped his big toe into the political pond as Prime Minister, and already he has been pushed in. Soaking wet, the eyes of the world are upon him. What will this new Liberal government do? What will be the legacy he will leave on this issue? Will they pull out of the war on terror? Will they stand with their allies in the fight on terror? And what will that mean for us as a nation?
Then there are the refugees. Those twenty five thousand displaced souls seeking refuge within our borders…and that brings up our nation’s immigration policy.
I have read so many articles, and listened to so many opinions, and heard so many points of view over so many cups of coffee. I have heard the left. I have heard the right. I think I fall somewhere in the middle on this issue, but, then again…I am not even sure, what I think about any of this.
Sometimes I think we forget that these refugees are not merely a political issue to be debated. They are real people who, for the most part, have been broken by war, death, pain, and suffering of such a magnitude that most of us cannot even begin to comprehend what it is they are dealing with.
Oh how my heart breaks for them.
Never in modern history have we seen such a massive migration of people seeking to escape the clutches of pure evil and hatred. I choke up as I see the pictures of destroyed villages and towns, and I weep when I hear the stories of survivors who lost everything. Yes, I am a bleeding heart, I admit it. I am for saving the weak and displaced. Then the statistics come out that 2 out every 100 refugees might be a terrorist. And that twinge of fear and doubt creeps in. The fear that is exactly what the terrorists desire for us. And then I start wondering things like, “Are our government officials capable of adequately screening all these people? Many of whom have no identification? Are there going to be enough jobs to go around? How are these people going to be supported?” When I think about these things, my brain starts thinking emotionally, “We need to close the borders, stop immigration, deny the twenty five thousand Syrian refugees access! There might be 500 terrorists trying to use this as a Trojan horse! They will drain our resources! AAHH!”
But then I remember the words of the Lord, “You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” And I remember these words spoken, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”
Jesus says to be hospitable, to have compassion, to show love to everyone… To let the stranger in to your dwelling place to eat with you. But…Where do we draw the line? Obviously I won’t knowingly allow someone intent on murdering my wife and kids into my house. I also have a duty to protect them as much as I am to be hospitable to strangers! Jesus also told his disciples to arm themselves, to defend themselves in Luke 22.
So what is the answer?
Compassion? Security? Both? If it is both, what does that look like? Is our current immigration policy sufficient to weed out the terrorist threats? I don’t know the answer to that.
I have another concern. I am concerned about how we, as western nations, as communities, as churches, and as individuals, will respond to the fear. Trevin Wax wrote in the Washington Post that, “Terrorism thrives on fear, and fear—if left unchecked—can spread into the deepest, darkest corners of our hearts and lead to decisions and choices that, in normal times, would be unthinkable.”
Just yesterday I saw two young Caucasian men taunting an elderly, Indo-Canadian Sikh man. They called him a terrorist and told him to go back to Syria. How sad! How misguided. Was this just a couple of mean spirited youths engaging in some sort of off-the-cuff and mean-spirited racism? Or is it sparked by fear? Is it the beginning of those unthinkable choices of which Trevin Wax was speaking? The fear on which the terrorist regime thrives? I am concerned that an irrational racism, or perhaps an “islamophobia,” is going to set in. In the war against terror, I am concerned that in our fear we will see unthinkable hatred intensified against these neighbours of ours.
If it is true that history repeats itself, we do well to look back about 75 years… Let’s go back in time to December 7, 1941. It was a different time, and a different war, but we can learn from it. On that date, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. A month later, on January 14, 1942, the government of Canada passed an unthinkable order calling for the removal of male Japanese nationals 18 to 45 years of age from a designated protected area of one hundred miles inland from the British Columbia coast. Those displaced souls were removed to internment camps. Three weeks later another order expanded that authority to allow the removal of “all persons of Japanese origin.” In all, some 27,000 people were detained without charge or trial, and their property confiscated. That was just Canada; America did something similar.
Will history repeat? Will those with Middle Eastern heritage, or who appear to look like them, be treated unfairly?
And what about the refugees? Are they really a Trojan horse? Perhaps. But most of them are just trying to escape the terror in their homeland. Will they be a drain on our resources? Perhaps. But I doubt that it will be all that noticeable. Will they integrate? It depends on whom you speak with.
So what is the answer?
Compassion? Security? Both?
I don’t have answers. I only have thoughts and questions and emotions. Just like most of you. What I do know is that this issue is far more complex than either the right or left make it appear.
I also know who is in control and He has given us His Word.
So let’s look there for answers.
You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday. – Psalm 91:5,6
We don’t have to fear terror and we needn’t fear godlessness. We needn’t fear this liberal anti-Christian climate in which we live, nor the extremists who threaten it. We need not fear the slow motion collision of two diseased cultures; two cultures who have no use for us as Christians. Yes, Psalm 91 encompasses it all. Night and day, no matter what happens, as believers we don’t have to be afraid. This verse speaks of Jesus. The “You” is Him, but we are in Him. He has taken all the arrows, the pestilence, the terror. So we need not fear…anything.
Even when we are scared.
Let us pray for all involved.
And remember to breathe.