I am so saddened by the news this week. The attacks in Paris, Beirut, and Mali. The reaction of fear, anger, and hate. Governors racing to claim they will keep out refugees, even though they lack the power to do so. Congress voting to keep out refugees.
Emotions are a powerful thing. They can cause people to rise up and accomplish stunning things that move humanity forward. And they can move us back. Fear, and the manipulation of it, is one of those.
What have I to fear?
Even if the United States accepted half a million Syrian refugees tomorrow, I would be far more likely to die in a car accident than at the hands of a Syrian terrorist. I am a careful and cautious person, but I understand that life is not lived unless risk is balanced. I know there is a risk of being in a car crash every time I drive somewhere — but if that kept me at home, I would never see my kids’ violin concert, the beautiful “painted” canyon of Texas, or the Flint Hills of Kansas. So I drive smart and carefully, but I still drive without fear. I accept this level of risk as necessary to have a life worth living in this area (where there are no public transit options and the nearest town is miles away).
I have had pain in my life. I’ve seen grandparents pass away, I’ve seen others with health scares. These things are hard to think about, but they happen to us all at some point.
What have I to fear?
I do not fear giving food to the hungry, shelter to the homeless, comfort to those that have spent the last years being shot at. I do not fear helping someone that is different than me. If I fail to do these things for someone because of where they come from or what their holy book is, then I have become less human. I have become consumed by fear. I have let the terrorists have control over my life. And I refuse to do that.
If governors really wanted to save lives, they would support meaningful mass transit alternatives that would prevent tens of thousands of road deaths a year. They would support guaranteed health care for all. They would support good education, science-based climate change action, clean water and air, mental health services for all, and above all, compassion for everyone.
By supporting Muslim registries, we look like Hitler to them. By discriminating against refugees based on where they’re from or their religion, we support the terrorists, making it easy for them to win hearts and minds. By ignoring the fact that entering the country as a refugee takes years, as opposed to entering as a tourist taking only minutes, we willfully ignore the truth about where dangers lie.
So what do I have to fear?
Only, as the saying goes, fear. Fear is making this country turn its backs on the needy. Fear is making not just the US but much of Europe turn its backs on civil liberties and due process. Fear gives the terrorists control, and that helps them win.
I refuse. I simply refuse to play along. No terrorist, no politician, no bigot gets to steal MY humanity.
Ultimately, however, I know that the long game is not one of fear. The arc of the universe bends towards justice, and ultimately, love wins. It takes agonizingly long sometimes, but in the end, love wins.
So I do not fear.
10 thoughts on “I do not fear”
Thank you, John, for putting into words what we all should be shouting.
Sorry but you muss the point.
Of course nobody fears the “refugees”. Unfortunately from the very same place where the “refugees” come from you get those nice guys who like to behead people with e knife or blow them up or bury them with a bulldozer. Just two days ago in the airport here two travelers with passports from Norway and Austria got arrested after the Police inspected their mobile phones and found pictures of masked guys with weapons, then one of them said “it is my brother who died at war” and then the passports were counterfeit. You can’t tell who is who among people flying, with all the (supposed) check points, guess if you can tell who is the real “refugee” and who is the killer among a screaming crowd without any real document.
Then, there is another trick here, using the word “refugee” for immigrants who come from countries with difficult economies and want to get a better life. There isn’t anything wrong in the thing in itself but then you must treat all the immigrants from all over the world the same, otherwise you are making it easy for somebody and difficult for somebody else just because of religion or place (inverse racism), It is like you have 10 unemployed people asking for job and you hire 3 because they are black or female or something, like “special”.
I give a silly example: right now a Japanese who want to visit my country need to come with a regular passport and a visa. Some guy from Africa can just come off the boat without any paper at all and get accommodation, food, phone, entertainment and free health care. He can stay basically for ever and it he gets any (real or fake) job, gets an unlimited visa (so he can make his relatives come too). Nobody ever gets expelled.
No, I don’t think so.
I don’t know what country you’re in, but here in the USA it takes 1-2 years for a refugee to enter the country on that basis. They require a ton of background checks. Someone intent on causing harm has many easier ways of entering the country. Denying refugee status to people prevents little.
Secondly, where are the people that are doing this coming from? Not just Syria. Try Belgium. Try Norway (Anders Breivik killed many and had nothing to do with the middle east). Try Colorado or Virginia, where people have shot up movie theaters and schools. The threat is not just “out there”.
I have no problem with a government policy treating all refugees the same. I am complaining against people trying not to do that.
I’m afraid you missed his point. He specifically accepts the risks you enumerate. He knows there may be terrorists amongst the refugees, and they may attack, but he is more likely to die in a car crash than from that attack.
To him, the risk of death by terrorist is worth the benefit of helping refugees.
“Fear kills mind” – Dune, by Frank Herbert.
(I haven’t read this book in English, so my translation may be wrong).
And when a “homo sapiens” loses his mind, maybe he loses his humanity as well.
Thank you for your thoughtful response to the fear and bigotry that has been rampant this last week.
I fear I am more likely to die from an air strike, than from a car crash.
Looking at the non-accountable, probably under-reported, numbers, this appears to be true.