Refugees, Terror Threats and Seeking the Path of Peace

800px-Entering_Arizona_on_I-10_WestboundIn response to the horrible terrorist attacks in Paris this past weekend, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey recently joined the chorus of elected officials trying to block the incoming flow of refugees.

As a citizen of Arizona, Ducey does not speak for me on this issue. In fact, his actions have prompted some thoughts.

I am not an elected official, much less governor. But I am a Daddy to eight children and I know what it means to want to protect them. But I have come to learn that what I think is best in protecting them may not always be what’s best to help them grow in to being responsible, loving adults.

I understand Governor Ducey’s reaction. But that’s exactly what it is, a reaction. It is reactionary. Reactions can be thoughtful But most of the time they are not, they are rushed and rarely get to the heart of the issue at hand. And the more I think about Governor Ducey’s statement, I can’t help but filter it through my own faith and how that faith would prompt me to react.

My faith prompts me to bless others because of the blessings I have received.

My faith pushes me to consider others as more important than myself. Yes, I might get hurt. Yes, it will most likely cost me but my faith enters into serving others with full awareness that I might get hurt and that it will cost. That’s what love is.

My faith dictates that I am not the arbiter of who deserves help and who does not. My faith pushes me to help, to seek the better, not primarily for myself but for others, even my enemies.

My faith demands that I seek the welfare of the disenfranchised, care for widows and orphans, clothe the naked, feed the poor and shelter refugees and seek the path of peace.

My faith says to meet hate with love, to somehow diffuse violence with love.

My faith casts out fear rather than being ruled by it.

My faith strives for peace and orbits around reconciliation.

My faith does not make sense and sometimes feels next to impossible to live out in real life, especially when wondering how a government ought to respond to terrorism.

You may not share my faith but surely you can agree that violence only begets violence. Hatred and fear boil over, dissolving reason. Retaliation knows no end. Rejecting others because we “might get hurt” only leads to separation and separation never sprouts unity. Disunity fosters ignorance. Fear plus ignorance equals . . . Nothing good.

While I understand that my faith does not dictate government policy, I at least want to live somewhere that is known for valuing people, rather than rejecting them. I don’t know how to do this other than to urge my elected officials to rise above fear mongering and do my best to love others. That seems like as good a place to start as any.