I started to write another post about our new family member, and I probably should have stuck with that, but while I was on my way to pick up our oldest children from school this afternoon, listening to Melissa Etheridge sing “Glorious,” something sort of solidified, and I thought it worth sharing.
Sometimes, we believe in the wrong things, and sometimes, we are afraid of the wrong things.
Right. Two simple and obvious statements. But I think it’s worth considering further.
I think a lot, clearly. Sometimes I think myself in circles. But it feels good to think. There were times in recent years when I just couldn’t do it, not about really abstract concepts. I could think about who needed to be fed and when, which developmental milestones were being met, my weekly meal plan, and other basic, fundamental things related to parenting and survival. Things are calming down now, relatively speaking, my hormones have settled, and I am procrastinating because I don’t want to study for the bar. The perfect recipe for philosophizing. Maybe I should grab a glass of wine.
This morning I shared an article from the Washington Post, something Mandy Patinkin (from Homeland) wrote. The article, “Death Behind Me, and Life in Front of Me,” was shared by one of my law school classmates. A classmate with whom I have little in common. In fact, one might fairly say it is a small miracle we are still connected through Facebook after all of these years. We weren’t close in school, and I don’t think we’ve lived in the same state since we graduated. On most topics, her political views are probably about as opposite as reasonably possible. Except on Syrian refugees, apparently.
I read the article, held back my tears (the last few lines were a little blurry), and shared it to my Newsfeed without comment. A few hours earlier I had posted what I thought was a cute story about something our oldest daughter said. Lots of likes. This article? Hours later, one like. On the other hand, no one posted anything nasty or mean, at least not directly.
In the hours that followed I did see friends and acquaintances post things like, “Today is a day to remember when we were attacked, not to open ourselves up for more,” or “People keep posting about these refugees who aren’t even Christians and hate us.” Others showed support for what Donald Trump said, something about not allowing Muslims into the country. Some of it was much uglier. I don’t even know exactly what Trump said. I can’t bring myself to look it up. I saw Hillary Clinton’s tweet about it. That’s right, I follow Hillary Clinton on Twitter (and a few other candidates), and I AGREE WITH HER ON SOMETHING. WHAT IS HAPPENING?!
Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’ve moved more toward the middle. That’s likely some small part of it, to be sure, but that can’t be the whole story. I’m too old and (way) too stubborn to change much.
I got involved with Carry the Future a few weeks ago and I’ve tried to get people excited about helping out. I’ve managed to convince perfect strangers, people who don’t know me at all, to contribute, and two friends, and my husband, to contribute. Not even my mother seemed moved. No one else wants anything to do with it. It’s controversial. Controversial? To give refugees baby carriers to carry their babies? What? I know there was that article that went around that said not to give things to organizations, but to give only money instead, but I have yet to see someone who actually planned to contribute decide not to contribute because of that article (which has been properly debunked). That article is only pulled out as part of an argument that starts, “We should focus our resources locally,” or something similar and eventually moves to “they don’t want your stuff anyway, and if they do, it’s not because they will actually help anyone.” Ugh. Read the fucking website, people. That’s not how this works.
I’m frustrated, it’s true.
I look around. It’s Christmas. We’re all living our lives, as we should – no matter what else is happening, life goes on, but people (with some exceptions) seem especially oblivious this year.
There is such a huge focus on making kids believe in Santa (a rant I will save for another day), but so little (comparatively) on the religious piece. People love to blame the need for political correctness for this; I don’t buy that for one second. It is possible to be both politically correct and religiously devout, and certainly possible to be politically incorrect and an atheist (or agnostic).
I know we are all looking for a little magic, especially in the face of some of the terrible things going on in the world. Why do we need an obese man in a red suit for that? Christmas is its own magic. The kindness people are capable of showing is its own magic. Why can’t we encourage belief in those things and believe in them ourselves?
We are, it seems, more afraid of what will happen if we take refugees in than if we don’t. I don’t understand that, and I believe it is wrong. I believe it is wrong as a Catholic, and I believe it is wrong as a human. I believe it is the wrong move from a human rights perspective, from a political perspective, and from a logical perspective.
Turning away people with nothing and nowhere to go, people who have suffered so greatly, people who are afraid of the same people who want to destroy us, that is wrong. That is not what Catholics do. That is not what Americans do. It’s not right and it’s not smart.
If those arguments are not convincing, consider that it makes this country look weak and afraid. When the world is looking for a leader, a solution, if we are not that leader, not that solution, someone or something else will be. I only vaguely remember the Cold War, but I know the stories well, and we are never very far away from a return. Along those same lines, yes, most of the people fleeing are Muslim. We can welcome them with open arms and demonstrate that we are not the monsters Daesh says that we are, or we can miss that opportunity and let someone else take it.
Having to make those arguments makes me feel sick to my stomach. Read what Patinkin says, it’s much better.
Other than the Santa rant I have been promising, this is my last post that addresses any negativity until after Christmas. I’ve typed what I felt needed to be typed, I’ll do what I can to help, and that’s it.
Be kind, friends.
– – –
After I finished typing this, I checked in with the Carry the Future volunteer page, and read another story with blurry words at the end. It was a story about a mother who donated a carrier her son bought to give a friend. She was donating it because her son died from brain cancer before he had a chance to give it to her, and his mother donated it. I have read so many moving and humbling stories about people working to help this organization.
I believe in the goodness and kindness of others, and tonight I’m praying for the strength to do that, knowing full well it’s being given to me with every breath.