It’s easy as an American to forget where refugees come from and to not question why they’re refugees. It’s easy to forget how we are involved in so many conflicts in this world because we are so far removed from the conflict. It’s easy to not recognize how we are at the root of educating so many violent dictators in this world that inflict violence on their populations causing people to flee. It is easy to be so self-involved that you’re just worried about “me” without acknowledging your role in supporting a system that abuses others. Although I am in support of refugees seeking a better livelihood and would be ready to open my home in a heartbeat, I even forget how my country is responsible for the experience many refugees around the world are going through so if it’s easy for me to forget that refugees are a product of something, I know it is certainly easy for the majority of Americans to forget this as well.
I got into a Facebook comment fight a couple weeks ago. I hate admitting it because it sounds so juvenile, but I saw an incredibly upsetting post regarding the rationalization of children being separated from their parents seeking asylum. This post was from an old, Adventist woman who I spent much of my childhood with, who I remember as a very loving and steadfast person. Many of her posts conflict with my memories of her as many of her posts are racist and antiquated world views. As much as I know I should oftentimes (or all of the time) skip her posts, I’m always interested in what people say regarding them. I am always hoping someone is commenting on her post and standing up with a different perspective on the other side, but I am disappointed by what I read the majority of the time. As this woman is a very Adventist woman, most of the people that comment on her posts are Adventist as well. Most of the people that comment are of the Adventist community I was raised in. I read comments by people who chime in agreeing with her post. I read comments by people spewing their support of Trump and his policies. I read comments using bible verses to justify the mistreatment of people. I read hate. “These are people!” I have wanted to scream at others as they justify the rejection of people at the border or their imprisonment. On this specific post, I wielded Adventism against them and tried to use my Adventist upbringing as the reason I supported our country in providing asylum, but they quickly accosted me for being a liberal and a person who left the Adventist church. They attacked me viciously for having such a different perspective. They spewed hate.
I don’t mean to keep talking about religion, but I also can’t really help it. No matter how much I remove myself from practicing Adventism, it is forever ingrained in me. I am in constant conflict with my Adventist upbringing. I love Adventism because it made me who I am, it gave my Dad a reason to be a good and loving man and father, and it taught me the power of serving and loving others. BUT I hate it because there are so many people in the church partake in violence against me and others, using Adventism as their reasoning. Religion is at the root of so much love and peace for me, while I see it at the root of so much hate and violence by others. I have difficulty reckoning my feelings of religion and its role in conflict. I ended the day where we focused on refugees by sharing about my recent Facebook fight, and asked Father Cedric how he helps religious people see their hypocrisy? How does he keep the patience to interact and still exemplify love towards these people? When I questioned, he pondered, and he told me he didn’t really have an answer, but he did tell me to not quit trying and to not give up, so I will not quit trying. I only hope through my practice of dealing in small conflicts with people such as these Adventists, I am able to practice the patience and love that I wish they would show others.