Monday, August 10, 2020

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This is How I Picture It

Sometimes doing the right thing isn't the easy thing

Following the terrorist attacks in Paris perpetrated by Muslim extremists on Friday, the call to not allow Syrian refugees into the United States has resonated loud through social media outlets as well as anti-Islam attitudes.

The tragedy in Paris has provided an avenue for politicians and presidential hopefuls to politicize the attack.

Presidential candidate Donald Trump stated on Monday that the U.S. should consider closing mosques, despite the U.S. Constitution protecting Freedom of Religion.

More than 20 governors across the United States have declared that they will not take refugees from Syria. The governors have made statements stating that they fear extremists and terrorists will be among those that take refuge within the United States.

As millions of Syrians flee their homeland due to the civil war that has been waged since 2011, countries across Europe have opened their doors providing refugees safety. Germany has taken in 93,000 while President Obama has stated that the United States will take 10,000.  It was reported that all the terrorists involved in the Paris attack were French and Belgium nationals. It was also reported that one Syrian passport was found near a dead attacker, which has led to speculation that one of the attackers was a Syrian refugee.  It was also reported that the passport belonged to a Syrian who was simply a victim of the attack.

Although U.S governors have keenly opposed allowing refugees within their states, ultimately the President of the United States has the authority to take in international refugees under the Refugee Act of 1980.

Since Friday, politicians have been lining up providing their opposition, including South Dakota’s congresswoman Kristi Noem and Senator Mike Rounds. As of yet, South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard has provided no comment on the issue, although he is being pressured to provide such opposition via emails and letters including one from South Dakota District 27 representative Elizabeth May.

It is a delicate issue, on one hand is the security and safety of our citizenry, while on the other the United States is supposed to be the beacon of humanity and freedom.

10,000 people are a lot of people to watch. Greater measures must be taken to ensure that the bad apples don’t make it through; it will be a daunting endeavor but one I believe we must undertake.

Are we not morally obligated to help those in need, those that are escaping persecution, death, and unimaginable horror despite their religion or ethnicity? Are we not to love thy neighbor?

We cannot with a broad stroke paint every Muslim as a terrorist or evil.  It is true there are some real evil characters who use Islam as a means to push their agenda, who distort what the Quran teaches to their advantage. But to blanket all believers of Islam as terrorists is irresponsible and wrong.

Is there a risk? Of course there is a risk. Everything has a risk. But despite the fear do we still just stand aside and do nothing? Or is it just simply not our problem? The world is much smaller than it used to be, with social media we are connected to those across the world in ways we never were in the past.

If we don’t do anything and close our doors, what does that say about us? What are we teaching future generations? That we only care about ourselves? Does that say as a nation we can go around the world and muck things up, wage wars, destroy countries, but at the end of the day turn the other cheek and lock our doors?

What is the greater crime, closing the doors and sending them back to Syria where they face death because we were afraid to help them out of our own fear?

Back in the 80’s when I was 12, I had an appendicitis attack.  During that time, IHS had serious funding issues and hospitals around the area were refusing IHS referrals because of fear of nonpayment. After a long day of being in pain and the inflammation getting worse, no hospital wanted to take me in to perform the surgery. Finally about 9 o’clock that night a doctor in Rapid City agreed to do the surgery because in his words “it needed to be done.”

With appendicitis, the appendix becomes inflamed and starts swelling.  After so long if surgery hasn’t been performed it will rupture releasing toxins into the body that if left untreated could turn deadly. Fortunately he caught it just in time, it actually ruptured in his hand after removing it.

Despite the risk of not being paid, the doctor still performed the surgery because the risk of me becoming sick and possibly dying was greater; morally it was the right thing to do.

I know, the situation is apples and oranges, but for me it was the difference between life or death. He could’ve just as easily said no and did nothing, I could’ve just as easily got sick, and worse case scenario I could’ve died.  I am grateful that he took the moral ground despite the risk and despite those around him telling him to not do the right thing.

I hope that freedoms we enjoy here are forever and long lasting and that we will never find ourselves in their shoes, displaced with no where to go. I hope though that if ever that day were to come, someone, somewhere, would say you are welcome here, despite our differences in religious institutions and our ethnicities.

Edmund Burke said in the 17th century, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Are we going to allow evil to triumph?

I don’t know what the right answer is for sure, but I do know what the wrong one is.