Stances surrounding whether refugees should be welcomed into the United States seem to be bombarding me from every angle – the news, my Facebook feed and classroom discussions.
I have always been hesitant to support America”s apparent need to be the “world”s policeman” of the Teddy Roosevelt era. Something in me has always craved less international action and more action within our own borders, simply for the sake of acknowledging the issues at home – a struggling economy, homeless veterans, starving children and a sub-par education system – just to name a few.
Everyone has seen how these national issues are being exploited in Facebook memes and aggressive columns and statuses to bring across the point that “refugees are not our problem – these are our problems.”
But something to consider is the responsibility that comes with perpetuating this “U.S. as the world”s policeman” idea. The brutal government infrastructures and terrorist groups our military has worked to overthrow have no doubt helped to bring freedom to the world. However, in taking on this role, has the U.S. put off the idea that we, as trusty policeman and spreaders of good, would be willing to welcome the displaced citizens of these war-torn countries?
It comes down to more than the idea that America”s international actions show a willingness to bring in hurting migrants. What”s more is that as more fortunate humans, a moral obligation to acknowledge the humanity of the less fortunate should be innate. To be desensitized to images and first-hand accounts of other people being forced from their homes and forced to start new lives is a brutal, disheartening reality.
Recent talk about letting refugees in only on the basis that they practice Christianity for fear of letting in radical Muslims is absurd. If religion determined all a person is worth, how many current American citizens would be deported?
To cite a common, often difficult-to-comprehend argument – we are a country of immigrants. Is now really the time to draw the line on letting anyone else discover his or her own version of the American Dream? This is a country of opportunity. It may be scary to consider welcoming such a vast foreign population into our borders, but to turn them away could be the ultimate act of hypocrisy.
I know how easy it can be to alienate myself from another person due to a language barrier or a difference in cultural norms. The unknown can cause unease. But in light of this recent influx of refugees across the globe, the differences have been muted for me. I see families. I see need. I see humanity.
I will admit my tendency to err on the side of keeping my eyes on the issues at home. But now, I encourage us all to err on the side of compassion.
Lyndsie Kiebert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @lyndsie_kiebert