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Cindy Maddera

A while back, I was watching the news. There was a story following the refugee crisis. This was a day or two after images of a lifeless toddler on a beach circulated the internet. The boy had been on a boat full of refugees that had capsized. That little body on the beach made people sit up and pay more attention to the crisis and chaos of Syria. This news story that I was watching had the reporter walking along with refugees as they tried to get across boarders. There was a man with two children and one plastic bag of belongings. He's a doctor. He has a medical degree. There was a woman who was a teacher. All of them fleeing their homes because their home has become a war zone. 

I think it's easy to see the hoards of refugees as just poor homeless people. We see them dirty, living in tent cities, and they become something other than normal in our my brains. We forget that these people are not much different from us. They are doctors, teachers, educated, hard workers. They are husbands, wives, mothers, daughters, fathers, sons. Before the bombings. Before the violence. They had normal lives. Just like you. I've been thinking about this and trying to write something for days now. I have deleted everything because I just don't know how to organize my thoughts in a way that doesn't sound like I am preaching to a choir. But I know that I am preaching to a choir. 

I don't know why or how my ancestors came to this country. I am Scotch-Irish, so I can only assume famine and persecution was a pretty good reason for risking a voyage across an ocean to a land you knew nothing about but just knew it had to better somehow. It's hard to imagine that people still believe this, but they do. Immigrants and refugees even today, when asked why come to America, they all say it's the land of opportunity and place for a better life for their families. How humbling that is to know you're part of a country like that. Yet there are so many of my fellow Americans who do not see it that way. They say no to letting refugees take sanctuary in the United States. It's not safe. I think about the things we have done because of fear. In 1942, we imprisoned 127,000 American citizens because of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. It is a part of American history that is deeply regretted. 

Risk. The scary thing about taking a risk is the uncertainty, the not knowing what will happen but hoping the risk is worth it. The consequences of not taking in some of these refugees is far greater than running the risk of allowing a terrorist to enter this country. It's funny to me that so many seem more afraid of the terrorists that exist outside this country than they are of the ones that are already here. The ones who threaten students and hurl hate. Timothy McVeigh. But that's another rant. The consequence of not providing sanctuary is that you've turned a whole country of people against us. The consequence is that we just create more terrorists with our lack of compassion. The consequence is that we lose our own humanity. 

There are bible school lessons that have always stuck with me. Love thy neighbor. Treat others as you would wish to be treated. Love one another. These are simple lessons taught across a broad spectrum of religions from Christianity to Muslim to Buddhism. Scary things are going to happen. Bad things. Loss. All of it just the other side of a coin. It is how we react and deal with these fears that defines our character. What kind of human being are you? What kind of human being do you want to be? We can let our fears decide that for us. I prefer to tell my fears to fuck off and chose for myself.