Ever since the attacks in Paris last week—and in Beirut and in Nigeria—I keep wondering how we push forward. How do we see beyond hate and fear? How do we forgive? How do live among uncertainty? How we retain our hopefulness?
In the analysis of the attacks, I’ve read the entreaties to not get wound up in anger; that is, after all, what the terrorists want. They want to unsettle our way of life, to make us live smaller, to foster hate. It’s good advice, though it’s hard, of course, to forgive; we learned that after 9/11. I think, sometimes, we’re still learning that.
But what I want to have us remember is that, in the midst of all of this violence, there are many who are not responsible for the current state of affairs. They are victims, too, not perpetrators and not the cause of the hatred. I am referring, of course, to the refuges who are fleeing Syria and other parts of the world where it is no longer safe for them to stay in their homes. Can you imagine that? Can you imagine your community being dismantled by terrorism and war? That it’s so bad that your only choice is to leave? It terrifies me.
We should be helping these people, shepherding them to places of security, not abandoning them. We shouldn’t support political leaders who prohibit them from settling in our towns or states. The NIMBY syndrome is narrow-minded and goes against everything the United States was built upon. I am angry—yes, angry—that we’re even talking about not providing assistance. There’s no evidence the refugees are infiltrated by terrorists. By turning our backs on them because they might—might—foster evil goes against our humanity; it is, after all, what the terrorists want.
We can write our senators and other elected officials and urge them to take action to help the refugees, and we can personally reach out and support organizations working to aid them. My research has come up with 12 groups helping Syrian refugees right now, including:
- Doctors Without Borders
- International Medical Corps
- International Rescue Committee
- Medical Teams International
- Mercy Corps
- Save the Children
- The UN Refugee Agency
- World Food Programme
Other groups working to provide assistance to Syrian refugees and to those in Syria can be found here.
I believe that a helping hand can make all the difference, and that all too often we live narrowly focused lives without looking up or out to see what our friends and our neighbors need. I believe that some are motivated by hate and many others by love. That the focus on hate starts early and is insidious, but that truly, we are more than hate. We are kindness and compassionate, and we are—we should be—there for one another.