Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Ruth and the Modern Refugee

At our church, we've been exploring the book of Ruth.

Do you remember that Old Testament character?  She's one of the few women who gets a whole book of her own. 

In the book of Ruth, we see a story about the outsider.  Ruth and Naomi are outsiders, strangers in a strange land.  It's hard not to see this story in our current discussion of how to treat refugees.

I have been quite distressed at how quickly the discourse has moved to angry, spewing vitriol in the wake of the Paris bombings.  I am saddened at how little we have already done for people fleeing from horrors we can't even imagine in our safety.  And now, we want to close the borders.

We have enough room for everyone who might want to come here.  There are huge swaths of the U.S. that are empty.  Some are truly uninhabitable, but some were once inhabited.

I understand that these arguments against taking refugees are not based in rationality.  I understand the scarcity consciousness behind some of them.  I understand the fear of those who are different.

But I also understand the richness that we all bring to the pot of stew where we live.  One ingredient does not make for anything interesting.

The U.S. has traditionally done a good job of integrating refugees into our larger culture.  Sure, we could have done better, but our less-stratified society actually makes our country a better candidate for refugee resettlement than much of Europe.  And the U.S. still has a wide variety of social service groups that are dedicated to refugee resettlement--another argument for why it should be this country.

Of course, there are plenty of refugees to go around. 
We are close to Advent and Christmas, a time when many of us will be hearing the words of the ancient prophets who call upon us to bind up the broken.  The season of Christmas will be bring a story about another set of refugees, about an ancient family forced to travel and then forced to flee.  We will hear about ancient governments who bear more than a passing resemblance to governments of the 21st century.

Those of us who are fortunate enough to be in countries that offer us stability--we have a duty to speak up for those who do not.  A variety of religions are very clear on that point of similarity.  For those of us who are non-religious, a variety of philosophical doctrines also point to the value of supporting those who are fleeing from terrors of all sorts.

Let us hope for the courage of those convictions.

1 comment:

Wendy said...

Thank you, Kristin. This is what I needed this morning. I always loved Ruth and Esther, the only two Bible books named for women. I would read their stories over and over.