Separated from the blank page since last my minor league ball club took to the diamond, I was awakened from my slumber this week by a shrill howl — one that resonated with vitriol and idiocy, as the loudest howls often do. How the human heart can hold such hate is something I’ll never comprehend.
How people can turn a blind eye to the suffering of multitudes is something wholly foreign to the human spirit and condition. But we have grown adept at working against our instincts and reverting back to those of our primate kin, complete with the teeth gnashing and chest pounding so prevalent in the wild.
As is well known to every person in the civilized world, Paris lost 129 innocent people Friday to bomb blasts and gunshots orchestrated by that primeval conglomerate known as Daesh. What anyone who calls themselves civilized or decent could not have forecasted is the cold reaction that supposedly evolved peoples have reverted to –the fear and hate directed at the millions of desperate people fleeing lands where this primitive organization has already taken hold.
Naturally, America’s own neanderthals, those who subscribe to the ideologies of the growing far-right movement in this country, have led the charge in educating the populace on how hairy beasts of the wild react in times of turmoil. And, to be honest, one cannot expect much less from the conservatives in this country — their feeble brains can’t yet understand the theory of evolution or the ups and downs of climate change, much less how a civilized nation should react to the tumult surrounding us all over the globe.
If American conservatives, and those of their strange ilk from lands abroad, had their way, we would simply drop napalm on the entire Middle East and search the rest of the world, machine guns at the ready, for any brown-skinned peoples who may one day wreak havoc on our peaceful, capitalist nation. Whether they be man, woman or child, if their country of origin be a war-torn, sandy hell then they are most assuredly part of the problem and will spend all of their waking hours thinking up ways to eradicate this country and everything it stands for. Thankfully, there are men and women in this country who realize that is not the case, just as every caucasian is not a swastika wearing Klansman so to is not every Muslim a gun-wielding extremist.
The photo connected to this article is one of a Syrian girl. When the photographer pulled his camera to his eye, the little girl raised her arms for fear of being shot. How do images like this not awaken the heart of these cold and villainous people?
Not long ago a photo surfaced of a Syrian toddler who had drowned at sea while fleeing the grip of terrorist organizations in his home country. How can we turn a blind eye and act as if these people are somehow villains themselves? Anyone who can do that is not fit to mingle among the human race — they should be banished to the jungles and woodlands where they might better procreate with their carnivorous brethren.
It’s not wholly foreign to me for people to feel fear. In fact, in the wake of such atrocities, it is entirely understandable for people of this nation to fear atrocities on their own soil. But to allow that fear to usurp our humanity is not only an abandonment of the ideals this country was founded on but an abandonment of everything that makes us human. What separates us from the mammals of the wild is our ability to feel sympathy and love, to use reason over impulse and to build and maintain the mutual respect and compassion that allows civilization to prosper.
I’ve made this argument many times since Friday and, more than once, I’ve been asked if I would welcome a Syrian family into my home. My answer: “You’re goddamn right I would.” I have two small children at home and when I look at the desperate people fleeing violence and terror, the likes of which no one in this country can ever fully comprehend, I can only see the tiny hands and eyes of my children.
The look of fear in the people’s eyes breaks my heart and there is no amount of fear that would cause me to react with anything less than unconditional love and compassion. To do otherwise would make me a sad example for the children I adore so fully. If we can not be there for peoples of lands unseen when we are needed most, we can not call ourselves civilized or evolved … in fact, we can not even call ourselves human. That which make us human is humanity — to abandon it is to become some other creature, one incapable of feeling the pains of his brothers and sisters all across the globe.
And, as if simple humanity and decency were not enough to encourage people to open their hearts and homes, we claim to be a Christian nation in this country. Granted, I am of the ridiculous belief that this country does not recognize a national religion … but that’s an argument for another day. Though I can’t claim to be a regular church goer, I can claim to know the book of my religion quite well … something that, perhaps, many of the book’s supposed followers have abandoned all together.
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?” The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” — Matthew 25:35-40
The rightwing zealots of this country so love to thump The Bible when best it suits their cause, but how quickly they turn from it when they are called to treat the desperate masses with decency and kindness. Though it is not my intention to argue from a religious perspective, it seems interesting to me that the very thing The Bible calls its people to do is being ignored by those who claim to follow it best. Interesting further is the fact that many of those who are following its texts subscribe to no religious faction.
We have a duty as humans, a social and moral responsibility, to do as much as we can for those in need. Does this mean we need to blindly allow everyone onto our shores, opening ourselves up to violence and terror? Certainly not. There is a strenuous vetting process already in place, a process which often takes years, designed to filter out those people with ties to terrorist organizations.
Am I pleading for a non-violent approach to the ongoing battle against terror? While that question is harder to answer, I am currently making no pleas for this country to lay down its weapons and hope for a peaceful end to this conflict. If those in power believe that violence is what’s required, so be it.
My plea is to the men and women who make up the American populace: Please, do not allow your fear to conquer your humanity. If there are outstretched hands seeking food, feed them. If there are damp peoples seeking shelter, shelter them. If there are ailing bodies seeking care, care for them. Do not abandon your humanity, for it is surely the only thing that makes us human. Our ability to construct buildings and governments and scientific wonders could all dissolve and we would certainly still be human.
But the dissolution of our humanity, the quiver inside our chests that guides us to care for those we do not know, will certainly turn us back into the beasts we have spent millennia evolving away from.
Crossposted from Piece of Mind.
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