When children get in trouble for fighting with each other, we often hear them explain their actions with something like, 'But Johnny took my toy’ or ‘Johnny pushed me first.’ Children are great at pointing the blame at others to try to justify their own actions, especially if their response was equally foolish or harmful. But as adults we are supposed to know better, right?
With the recent terrorist attacks around the world, I wonder if we are pointing blame in the wrong direction in an attempt to justify our own response, even if we know our reaction is unhelpful or unloving or worse.
In my state, maybe like yours, our governor is attempting to block the resettlement of our Syrian neighbors who are fleeing unimaginable circumstances and looking for a place to call home. This response is directly related to what a group of terrorists did in Paris.
To justify closing our doors to our Syrian neighbors because of what happened in Paris sounds an awful lot like the adult version of saying ‘yeah, but Johnny pushed me first.’
I am not suggesting that we should overlook the terrorists who actually carried out the attacks – you know, the crazies who chose to murder their neighbors. But let’s not let them be our motivation or even our justification for responding in a fearful, foolish, or unloving way.
Instead let’s take a deep breath; maybe even count to ten. Let’s pause to ask ourselves if there is another more helpful, more mature, or more loving way to respond.
We have some brilliant minds in this country, including many who came as refugees. Let’s unite and find a solution that reflects the way of Loving our neighbor. Or let’s at least pursue a way that reflects the words inscribed at the foot of our Statue of Liberty:
Give me your tired, your poor / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free / The wretched refuse of your teeming shore / Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me / I lift my lamp beside the golden door