I find it hard to go on with my day-to-day life as if the refugee crisis in Europe doesn’t impact me. I find myself thinking, feeling, and praying a lot about the fate of the people involved—the images so haunting and the numbers so great. The pictures overwhelm. The dead bodies; all of a family’s belongings in backpacks; people pushing to board vehicles of various kinds; the refuse left on the ground after the people have moved on. The children, especially, tug at my heartstrings whether in the arms of their parents or walking with them hand in hand. I wonder what their little hearts are feeling. What impact will this experience have on the rest of their lives? What do they really understand about what is happening to them? What trust and faith these parents must have to attempt this most trying arduous and dangerous journey to find freedom and opportunity? Talk about living in the now! Could you or I go through this? Would our families survive?
With modern media, we are asked to think globally about so many issues that in past ages we would not have even known were happening. Daily, TV and newspapers tell us that thousands of people from many different countries are pouring over the borders of countries with no end in sight. Today, a report in the New York Times, has illustrated graphically the exponential rise in the numbers of refuges pouring into Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan (4.7 million) and those entering the European Union countries, estimated to be 1.3 million by the end of the year.
A few countries have been welcoming. How heartwarming it was to hear that the Germans welcomed the arriving children with cheers, candy and stuffed animals, and for the adults, sanitary supplies, food and other necessities. We learned that some German people gave over empty homes to house families and the government was making every effort to make the refuges feel welcomed with housing, food and opportunity to apply for asylum. For how much longer can the Germans continue to open their arms? At what point does the welcome, by necessity, turn to other reactions when, because of the sheer numbers, their resources to cope with the large influx of refugees are strained to the breaking point?
Tomorrow (9/14) the EU leaders are going to be meeting to try to come up with a plan to distribute the refugees across its member states. Merkel has said the refugees do not get to choose where they will go, as Germany is close to closing its borders after having taken in the bulk of those heading towards Europe so far. We know certain countries have refused to take in refuges. Why have the Arabian countries been so reticent? The US has agreed to 10,000 by last count, but apparently only those who are already in the pipeline. Were there not an ocean between us, we too, no doubt would have thousands pouring across our borders as well. Where will all these people end up?
Looking ahead, how will the world feed, clothe, educate and medicate these millions of refugees? It strains my heart and mind to consider the ramifications of these numbers of people on the social, cultural and political systems of these European countries. How generous will our own countries be with resources and supplies? Goodwill will be required in every instance and will surely test the moral timber of us all. If God was giving us a test of our sense of responsibility for our fellow man, this is certainly a good one–a Good Samaritan test for our modern times, which I hope we will all pass with flying colors. It seems to me that it has become our collective opportunity to make good karma, for ourselves individually and for our nations, but until the problem of religious intolerance and man’s inhumanity towards man, as we have seen it emerge in the Middle East, is collectively addressed, we will continue to have these challenging migrations.
Dr. Celeste A. Miller
Aisch, G., Almukhtar, S., Keller, J., Andrews, N. (2015). The Scale of the Migrant Crisis from 160 to Millions, New York Times, 9/13.