Friday, December 04, 2015

If People Need Help

I have heard some chatter that the attacks in California and France prove that accepting Muslim refugees is dangerous, and that those who oppose it are being prudent. Well, a hearty congratulations for desiring peace and safety. In other startling news, human beings need food and water to live. I have never actually met anyone who thought being a victim of terrorism was a good thing. So, charity at least demands that we not accuse the welcomers, let's call them, of being unaware or unconcerned about the risks of extremist violence.

If it were actually to come to pass that a few million people had nowhere to go, and they needed to come here, you just do it. This is America, and some of us actually believe the talk: this America idea is pretty awesome. This is a place where dreams really do grow wild, to borrow a phrase. After all precautions have been taken, there isn't much else that could be done. But I know that this freedom isn't a thing you clutch tightly, jealously guarding its treasure. Indeed, "the West" would not exist without America.

But who are we, if we live in fear? And if we dare to say this is a Christian nation, as questionable as that may be from any one vantage point or another, we know what this demands: we would gladly risk being killed, in order to do kindness in the Name of Him who saved us, either without knowing that it was well received, or knowing it certainly wasn't. Don't ask what Jesus would do, because you surely know "cautious" does not describe Him.

I will not use the phrase, "politically correct," because people use it as a pejorative, and as an excuse to hold irrationally fearful and bigoted opinions in the guise of "telling it like it is," but some part of the conventional wisdom as to the number of extremists and sympathizers could be significantly wrong, higher than optimists of a certain stripe care to contemplate. In the end, however, it's of marginal relevance, because there is no military force in the universe that, purely by its efforts, can destroy an evil idea. We know this as Christians, and yet we can be fond of trusting in proverbial horses and chariots more than we ought.

I refuse to be afraid of Muslims. I have a better chance of getting killed by a bus than a jihadi, and by a lot, at that. This is not to say that we ignore what's happened, or swear off vigilance, but we must also stop believing that whatever a person is conditioned to do is what they must do. Have we forgotten the stories of God's mercy and power? Did Christ not make his enemies into friends?

He walked right into a trap, on purpose, to save you and me. He gave a blanket pardon to those present (and all of us) in the midst of the gravest injustice ever committed.

I might die in a terrorist attack. If I did, it would be a tragedy. But I hope I would die doing what I know to do: love God, and my (Muslim) neighbor.

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