As far as many people are concerned these days, there’s little room for debate on anything. If you agree with something, you agree wholeheartedly with no questions or doubts. If you don’t, every fiber of your being is against it. You apparently have to be an “extremist” to have your opinion count on any issue.
That seems to be the case when it comes to the world’s current refugee problem. At least when it comes to the solutions our leaders have to offer us. The truth of the matter is that most people who have truly taken time to consider the conundrum were in fall around the middle. No one really wants to turn aside people in true need – no matter their background. And no one wants to be conned into complicity by terrorists.
When I was in high school, my German language class traveled to Germany on the ultimate field trip. It was about six months after the Berlin Wall “came down.” It was also handy to the time of the Lockerbie air plane crash.
On the way home, in the shuffle of 20 something high school kids getting into the Berlin airport, through customs and to the right gate in a foreign language, a friend of mine lost his ticket and boarding pass. Our chaperone, a Catholic Marianist Brother, and my friend appealed to the airline to reissue – the ticket was paid for, the seat reserved as part of an educational package. It was just a piece of paper that was lost.
Airline officials in Germany were already dealing with air port security issues then, in 1990. Americans really had no idea why there were soldiers in the terminal with large guns. The airline didn’t want to let my friend on the plane. After quite sometime and probably some serious Catholic guilt from our teacher, the airline acquiesced – if my friend agreed to check everything he was carrying straight through to the States. I still remembering him fretting over expensive Germab beer steins he was taking home for family.
My friend is Middle Eastern. I’d say he’s Muslim, but I’m not really sure how active he is in the religion. I know when we were in Catholic school together (yes, you read that right) his older brother was trying to learn more about Islam. I remember him attempting to fast during Ramadan once and speaking to my world religion class about the amazing fatigue he felt. To make matters more interesting, my friend with the lost ticket had a variety of health problems that made him look closer to 30 than 16.
I “speak” with my friend still over Facebook. He’s an American. Like those Muslims you hear about who serve dutifully in the US Armed Forces. We have interesting conversations about the refugees. He reminds me not all Muslims are part of or agree with ISIS, Al-Quida, Boko Haram, or any other extremist group. I remind him that people like me fear for the lives and future freedom of our children. Shutting the door, so to speak, doesn’t sound bad to us.
We think about ways to separate Middle Easterners, Americans of Middle Eastern descent, and peaceful (yes, some are) Muslims in people’s minds from Muslim extremists. Almost two decades of PR experience and I’m stymied on that one. Our leaders need to think as hard as we are. There must be something between turning our backs on refugees, and allowing the fox into the hen house in the name of morality.
Today, I remembered something that kicked me right onto the fence on refugees, from what on Saturday was a lock the door and throw away the key stance.
Just a little less than three years ago, I almost lost my life to a heart attack brought on by diabetic ketoacidosis. Not only did I survive, I am again thriving. The doctor who saved my life on the operating table with almost no damage to my heart, and who has sustained me, is a Muslim.
Not everyone is dangerous. But some certainly are. Which are you?