where to begin? with the tragic events in bamako, beirut, and paris? with the venomous rantings of the xenophobes? tragedies often bring out the best and the worst in us. as we watched in horror as misguided terrorists wreaked havoc in three cities, our first impulse was often revenge for the killings of innocents. an eye for an eye, or even many eyes for an eye, seemed a reasonable response at first. as we watched a blindfolded muslim man embraced by many on the streets of paris, that first vengeful impulse faded for many of us.
for others, the acts of few extremists brought out extreme views in the name of protecting ourselves from such acts of random violence. in the usa we had proposals from serious presidential candidates for registering all muslims so that they could be tracked by the government, calls for abandoning plans to bring a small number of the syrians who are in need of sanctuary to our country, a plan to admit only christian refugees, suggestions for the forced closure of mosques, and comparisons of those in need of sanctuary to rabid dogs or a bunch of grapes of which a few are poisoned. governors across the country vowed to keep syrian refugees out of their states.
at the same time laws to prevent those on the terror watch list from legally buying guns were condemned by conservative lawmakers and the gun lobby. the house of representatives rushed to pass legislation to prevent syrian asylum seekers from entering the country. a large number of democrats joined all but two of the republicans in the house to create a veto-proof majority, though the new law probably won't make it through the senate.
our fear has overshadowed our empathy for the families of those who were killed or injured by the terrorists in mali, lebanon, and france. many have become blinded to the terrible suffering of the victims of islamic state and the civil war in syria. we have resorted to the hateful rhetoric which greeted other waves of immigrants--the irish, the italians, and lately those from south of our border. we are afraid of those who are different, those whom some say don't share our culture or our values.
but these "foreigners" are our sisters, our brothers, our parents, our children. they are us with different languages and sometimes different religions. they want peace and safety. they want to have the necessities of life for themselves and their families. they want their children to have an opportunity to prosper, to live without fear, to have enough to eat. how can we turn our backs on them, thereby creating more hate and radicalism in the world?
may reason prevail. may we find our better selves. may compassion conquer fear. may our country and all the world see that hatred and suspicion feed the forces of hate and ignorance. shalom.