- My family and I came to this country as refugees. Mercy loosely translated means pity. We deserved nothing and could offer nothing. But we were still given an opportunity because we were desperate people from a broken land and someone had mercy on us.
- There's this image. Leaving your country is a last resort. It's not like packing your kids up and going to Disney. The risks are great. But staying behind has greater risks. I'm not a parent but I don't imagine that I would take my children on such a dangerous endeavor unless I had no other options. The family of this boy lost everything when he died. At home, they risked losing even more.
- The security fears are overstated. Refugees will be better vetted than someone entering the country on a tourism visa. It's a two year process and not everyone who applies for refugee status gets accepted. Plus, you do not necessarily get to choose your country as a refugee. The country selects you. The fact is that in the United States you are more likely to be the victim of a terrorist attack by someone visiting on a tourist visa or homegrown terrorist than by refugees. You're also more likely to be the victim of a domestic attacker in a mass shooting than a terrorist attack committed by foreign radicals.
- None of this is to say that we should not be concerned about terrorism. It just seems that refugees are one of our least likely sources of attacks. Despite earlier fears, it seems that all the attackers in the Paris attack were residents of the European Union and not migrants or refugees. I would be more worried about someone on a temporary or tourist visa or an American extremist/nutjob than a refugee.
- I do understand the fear, though I believe that a lot of the fear is irrational and a lot more fear is rooted in xenophobia and hatred. As a friend wrote on my Facebook wall, he just wants to protect his family, which I respect. But we fear the potential. What we fear might happen is exactly what the people who are leaving are fleeing. Except it is happening. Daily, on a scale we probably cannot imagine. We want to protect ourselves and our love ones from a perceived threat, but if you were in their shoes and the treat was imminent and constant, would you do anything differently than them?
- My faith tells me we should let in refugees. There are two metaphors that are often used in the church that have long resonated with me. One is that Christ is the bridegroom and the church is his bride. Our faith is like a marriage. The other is that of an orphan. Ephesians 1:5 says that we were "predestined for adoption". Several passages refer to us a children of God-- we have an inheritance. He adopted because we were lost, powerless and pitiful. And he takes us in, clothes us and offers us the keys to his kingdom (Matthew 16:19). I believe that God rescued me as a sinner, let lifted out of the miry pit. He did not put conditions on my salvation. He didn't wait for me to change or get better. Had he, then I'd still be left behind because I could never meet the perfection that he demands. That's Grace-- getting what I don't deserve. Grace is what the refugees deserve.
- There's an illustration that several people have used about M&M's or peanuts that I don't like. Basically, it goes that if someone gives me 20 M&M's and I knew 2 were poisoned, would I still take them? You know what I would do? Throw them away. Because they're M&M's. You know what I don't throw away? People. Basically, I interpret that illustration to say that it is okay for many people to die because 1 or 2 are bad. If 5 in 10,000 fetuses were to grow up and kill someone or become a drug addict there is no way you would abort all of them because there is potential for some to be bad.
- Many people have argued that we need to take care of our own poor, homeless and wretched before we take care of others. I love it. I believe we should. I just want to know where all these people have been for years? For a long time all I've heard are that the poor are victims of entitlement and the homeless are lazy bums. We had a chance to expand Medicaid in NC and chose not to and now we all of a sudden care about the poor. Efforts to help the poor and homeless are sometimes decried as socialist. Schools and education are a means to fight poverty but just do an internet search on what NC and many states have done to education funding. I think we should and can help both the needy in our country and those needing refuge from abroad.
- The Future. Blocking refugees today might make us feel safe, though as stated above, the threats are likely from other places. But those refugees without homes and hope can become future radicals. ISIS wants us to deny refugees because that helps their recruitment. The children who grow up in fear and lost may be tomorrow's extremists. Or they could come here, be educated, assimilate into our society and become tomorrow's doctors, teachers, diplomats, engineers.
- The Future II: I fear that history will not judge us well. Will our treatment of migrants and refugees be akin to the 1920s of the Red Scare, Sacco and Vanzetti and the Emergency Quota Act. Perhaps we'll be compared to the America that interned thousands of Japanese Americans during World War II. I fear that in the near future, we'll look back at this moment and not see enough moments of courage and clarity but a society that was overcome by and acted on its fears.
2) Many people have stated that they wanted us to help homeless vets before we help foreign refugees. Asheville is criticized by many (and adored by many more) as being a bastion of liberalism (though surrounding areas are pretty conservative). I love the diversity and culture of Asheville. And the beer. And then I ran across this article in the Citizen-Times and made me love Asheville even more. It's not perfect, but people are working in the right direction. Our veterans deserve it.
And if you want to help the people who are helping our homeless veterans, then here is the link to the ABCCM.
3) Paris was home of Victor Hugo. I love the story of Les Miserables, There are so many themes and lessons from the story. Admittedly, I've never read the book. But I've seen the musical several times and I'll show the 1998 version of the movie in class sometimes. This is my favorite scene in the movie, maybe in any movie. It's grace, forgiveness, mercy and hope all rolled into one. Hopeless, Valjean continues lost and desperate. Given a chance, he is a redeemed man.
4) The world lost a bright soul last week. I found out that one of my former students, Brittany Ramsey died. This is the third former student of mine in the past 6 months. Brittany was one who always made you smile. She truly cared for others-- I would see her befriend and say hi to the students that most people walked by. I was helping a little with golf at the time and always had a blast at practice or driving them to a golf match. In all the mess that we create in the world, people need to know that there are others that care for them and have their backs. Thanks for making us laugh and smile, Brittany. Love and peace.
5) The world also gained a new star. My great-niece was born last week. Welcome to the world Eva Waller. You're loved immensely and you always will be.
6) Wrestling opened up on Wednesday with two matches. We beat Mt Heritage and AC Reynolds fairly easily. Good start for my team, we got some good experience for our young guys.
7) Ohio State has fallen both on the scoreboard and as a team. Comments by their stars seemingly show cracks in their unity. I try to teach my wrestlers that how you handle greatness is not as important as how you handle adversity.
Top Seven: 1) Clemson 2) Iowa 3) Alabama 4) Michigan State 5) Oklahoma 6) Notre Dame 7) Baylor