Oakland church

World Refugee Day: Do more than Post to Facebook

Photo by Nitish Meena on Unsplash

Wednesday, June 20th, is World Refugee Day, a day to draw the public’s attention to the millions of refugees and internally displaced persons worldwide who have been forced to flee their homes due to war. According to the UN, today more than 68 million people around the world are refugees or internally displaced as a result of conflict or persecution. That is equivalent to the population of the world’s 20th largest country.

There’s been so much news about Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) separating children from their parents and raiding homes, schools, and businesses. 

The UCC is urging all of it’s congregations to take action now, by contacting our representatives and providing funds to keep families together. Please read on and please sign on! 

I recently read a story of Taina Smalls, an African-American woman confronting ICE agents on a Greyhound bus near Las Vegas. Agents boarded the bus and demanded to see people’s identification papers. The Hispanic woman beside her was horrified until this woman stood up and shouted at the ICE agents, “This isn’t Nazi Germany, and you don’t have to show these gestapo agents anything. They don’t have a search warrant, and we are more than 100 miles from the border, so they have no authority here.”  

Her words were more choice than that, but the agents backed down and said, “Obviously, with that mouth you are an American.”  Then they got off the bus. An informed patriot resisted what this country has become and is becoming. She’s an ordinary citizen who performed and extraordinary service. She is a woman and a person of color, and I have no doubt she has encountered oppression because of both these things. Despite her salty language, however, she clearly was the most moral and American person on the bus that day. She stood up to injustice, named it, and encouraged others to resist it.

What would you have done? Do you have the courage to resist injustice with more than a Facebook post or a tweet? Are you willing to confront the malignant bigotry that starts with the White House and removes the thin veil over the anger and hatred of our neighbors and kin? Failing to do more than we are makes us collaborators, just like those who, in apathy, stood and watched as their Jewish neighbors were dragged away by the Gestapo. 

Do we believe those collaborators somehow were worse people than we are? Do we think that our apathy toward the treatment of immigrants seeking asylum is somehow more justified than that which enabled the Nazis? I’m sorry, but we are no different if we remain silent or scream about it only to our “friends” and followers online. We must do more. We must call our representatives relentlessly until they fear for their jobs and understand what it means to be a REAL American

Blessings and thanks, Pastor Laurie 

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