Brave Enough

“On May 13, 1939, the German transatlantic liner St. Louis sailed from Hamburg, Germany… On the voyage were 937 passengers. Almost all were Jews fleeing from the Third Reich. Most were German citizens, some were from eastern Europe, and a few were officially “stateless.”… Following the US government’s refusal to permit the passengers to disembark, the St. Louis sailed back to Europe on June 6, 1939… Of the 288 passengers admitted by Great Britain, all survived World War II save one… Of the 620 passengers who returned to the continent [532] were trapped when Germany conquered Western Europe. Just over half, 278 survived the Holocaust. 254 died…” Voyage of the St. Louis

Shamefully, I have watched many of my Christian friends join the chorus on Facebook of those who would shut our borders against the suffering of refugees in the Middle East. Suffering in great measure due to the indiscriminate arming of Syrian rebels and others in the region by the US and other nations.

I have been appalled by our state’s senior senator, who supported these arms transfers and military escalation, and I am appalled by today’s pronouncement by Arizona’s Governor Ducey that he is opposing placement of these poor people in our state.

For my whole life I have heard and watched the words of Pastor Martin Niemoller circulate amongst my Christian friends and in the churches they attend:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

We hear about courage constantly in reference to our military and our exploits in all of these wars all over the globe. No doubt there are acts of bravery and moral resolve carried out daily by women and men in our nation’s uniforms.

But right now we can ALL be brave, ALL be courageous, by standing up against fear-mongering politicians and pundits. Tell them we will not allow them to shut our doors on the needy, the helpless, men, women and children, who just want to live their lives in peace and make something of themselves.

It takes courage because a few bad apples may slip through. We may have to accept that we might get hit, we might get hurt. But we’re brave enough and we’re strong enough, and our moral sense will not be satisfied by just standing up at a football game to recognize some person we sent to a far-away land to take our danger for us. That we are compelled to respond to the call of needy people by opening our own doors and our own arms, in our own communities, in our own homes.

I won’t speak to everyone because I know not by what standard to judge. But to my Christian friends and acquaintances who have joined the mob of isolationists… you should be ashamed. You know the words of Pastor Niemoller well, I’ve heard you quoting him my whole life. Now is your moment, now is your chance. Stand up, be a TINY bit brave, and speak for those whom our elected officials and talking heads want to trap in a nightmare, those who CANNOT speak for themselves. Reject the fear mongering and do not leave us with just more stories of ships, trucks, or planes full of people sent back to despair and possibly death.

Be better than we were in 1939, keep the doors open, speak for those who need our help.

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