Ron Radosh declares it “The worst European refugee crisis since the end of World War II….” The Wall Street Journal and Washington Post, yes the Washington Post, excoriate current American and European leadership and policy that got us in this mess. Bret Stephens and Michael Gerson point out that this is where weakness gets us. I have never been to Lesbos, but I have been to other Greek Islands and the arrival of a cruise ship can change the complexion of one entirely, let alone 20,000 people on the run from their failed states of origin. What is happening in Europe and the Middle East right now is a big deal.
While the death of one small three year-old has created this uptick in coverage, I still don’t think this has really penetrated the American consciousness. It is now a story, but it remains a story among many stories. One could argue that it is our physical separation from the crisis allows us a disturbing level of detachment. But I cannot help but feel there is something deeper going on here.
I saw that bumper sticker over the weekend, but it is the first and to date only, indication I have seen of this crisis beginning to take serious hold in the national mind. And this was in a neighborhood with a high percentage on Middle Eastern emigres. The obviously failing policies of the Obama administration, sometimes following the European lead and sometimes leading them, have not occurred in a vacuum. Theses policies reflect the mindset of the nations they lead; nations too absorbed in their own culture to be concerned with another.
Since the comparison to WWII Europe is already on the table, I should refer to Eric Metaxas’ marvelous biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The book gives genuine insight into how the Nazi agenda occurred in and around the German people. They were not duped so much as they were so self-absorbed that they did not bother to look. Yes, that self-absorption was encouraged by the government in any number of ways, coercive and otherwise. But had such self-absorption not been present such efforts would have failed. Bonhoeffer rightly understood that this indicated a failing in the religious leadership of the time.
So, where are our religious leaders? Well, the most overtly religious of the GOP candidates is preoccupied with a Kentucky County clerk’s civil disobedience and the Pope is revamping divorce policy. Both those issues have some merit but they pale in significance when compared to the dislocation of hundreds of thousands of people from their homelands – many of them dying in the effort to leave.
Some would shrug their shoulders and say there is little to be done until Obama is out of office. While I will agree that a man of his incredible ego is not going to change course at this juncture, that does not mean we are powerless. Yes, changes in national policy, in fact the polices of many nations, are needed to stem the tide. But the Christian heart demands that until such time, we help deal with the tide.
Camps are being established because, frankly, there is no other way. Why are we not organizing to make sure the camps are different this time? Such things are never ideal, but with Christian charity they can be made tolerable, even pleasant. That’s just one idea. I am sure if we quit worrying about the quality of the worship music next Sunday and concentrated, we could come up with hundreds of other ideas to help these refugees. Nope, the refugees are not our Christian brethren, but they are still God’s people and they still need our help.
While we deal with the immediate humanitarian crisis, we also need to make sure this is an election issue. It is far ranging as such – from foreign policy to military funding to immigration policy – this crisis covers much of what government legitimately does. We have to demand answers of our candidates – but such is a parallel effort to our immediate humanitarian efforts.
The world has suffered deeply from the last seven years. We have a long road back. But that road begins not with the next election but with our hearts right now. Are you willing to help? This is one organization that I have recently become acquainted with. I have not discussed with them specifically what they are doing on this crisis, but I am quite sure they are up to their eyeballs in it – it is what they do. Why not start with a donation there?