Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
The above quote is an excerpt from “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus which is engraved in bronze on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. I quote it because it seems to me to be representative of one of the great pillars of this country from even before its inception–compassion–harkening even back to the days when the first Pilgrims came to these shores seeking religious freedom. But this pillar is tottering & may have already fallen. We now live in a country (and maybe even a world) that has no compassion–at least not collectively (I’m sure there are still those who are compassionate on an individual or personal level).
In recent weeks/months, I’ve witnessed news accounts & Twitter/Facebook posts that demonstrate just how callous we’ve become as a nation. I’ve seen busses full of children/families trying to escape conditions most Americans cannot even imagine blocked by an angry mob more concerned about how the children entered this country than what the children are running from or how desperate their needs might be.
I’ve seen a bill likely to be introduced into my own state’s legislature that would withhold state funding from communities that are willing to take in some of these refugee children.
Do you realize that the current “immigration crisis” primarily involves children? Do you realize these refugee children are fleeing some of the most dangerous countries in the world? Do you realize that we live in one of the richest country in the world, and that although these refugees may cause a significant financial strain to local governments, if churches and individuals would step up to care for them rather than leaving the care of orphans (& widows & the poor & the oppressed & the …) to the State, it cause nearly the strain that it currently might?
And I’ve seen people up in arms over bringing home a nurse and physician with ebola who have risked their own lives to help others. Forget that every conceivable precaution has been and is being taken (above and beyond what is needed even) to prevent that horrendous disease from spreading. Forget that those infected might want a chance to be close to family before they potentially die. Forget that death is not a certainty with Ebola or that they can receive the best possible care here in the US. Forget that the greatest threat for the spread of the disease is coming in contact with the blood or secretions of someone with ebola who has not been diagnosed. Forget that this desire to keep them out of the country may negatively impact people’s desires to serve those in need overseas.
No. Only remember that Ebola is a contagious disease that wreaks havoc (in spurts) on another continent that doesn’t have the facilities or resources that are available in this country to keep something like it from spreading.
I saw an interview with one of the doctors at Emory yesterday morning regarding the precautions in place to prevent the spread of Ebola. Do you realize the room the patient is being cared for in was designed in conjunction with the CDC to treat SARS patients? Do you realize that SARS is much more contagious than Ebola? Do you realize Ebola is not spread through airborne particles but only through contact with contaminated blood/secretions?
I understand some concern about these things; concern is normal. But what I see, or what is implied whether intended or not, by these kinds of reactions is hate. Hate for one’s neighbor (before you try to argue that these people aren’t your neighbors, look over Luke 10:25-37). Hate toward anyone or anything that might upset our comfortable little lives.
You can deny that it’s hate all you want, but I think such an overt lack of compassion & love for others can be nothing but hate.
I think what really bothers me more than anything about what I’m seeing is that much of it seems to be coming from the “Christian” Right. If we call ourselves by the name of Christ, then we, above all others, should be at the forefront of demonstrating compassion and love and caring for others in dire need. We should willingly be sacrificing our own desires, & even lives, rather than trying to save our comfortable existence in this world. Or have you forgotten this world is not our home & we are merely sojourners here? Have you forgotten Christ’s great love for us that while we were still sinners he DIED for us? Have you forgotten that we should love others BECAUSE He first loved us?
I have a recommendation for you if you are a conservative Christian: Pay greater attention to the Word of God through which you were saved than any of the talking heads in the media; they have their own agendas (or the “news” organization’s) to promote that are not God’s agenda.
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (James 1:27 ESV)
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:36 ESV)
When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. (Matthew 14:14 ESV)
But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ (Luke 10:33-35 ESV)
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, (Colossians 3:12 ESV)
Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:13-14 ESV)
“You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. (Exodus 22:21-22 ESV)
He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. (Deuteronomy 10:18 ESV)
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.” (Zechariah 7:9-10 ESV)
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:41-46 ESV)