On Facebook the other day I was told by a complete stranger that I am responsible for the “dumming down” [sic] of America. I thanked her for her comment, felt obliged to clarify the spelling of “dumbing,” and moved on with my life.
Except it’s staying with me. Not that she called me dumb; she doesn’t know me, my job, my education, my background. She made a snap decision based on my political leanings; I’m dumb because she thinks people who believe as I do are all dumb.
What’s sticking with me is the assumption and accusation of stupidity that was railed at me though my statement was not provoking in the slightest – except for my political leanings. My statement was a plea for compassion. Is it irony that my plea for compassion is answered in the least compassionate way? I don’t know, because I’m an idiot. My English Lit degree taught me nothing, apparently.
Except it taught me so much. I read books from different times, places & cultures. I visited a few different countries in my history as well, and I learned a little of how the Irish, the English & the Spaniards live.
Are we Americans so egotistical that we assume we are so much better than any other population of people? We are all just clustered at different spots on the globe; because we were born there, in most cases. We usually are raised with certain cultural or societal mores & tenets, and as a adults hopefully we learn to question those. We either solidify those beliefs or we learn where the flaws are and we choose our own path. This is the American, Catholic, Muslim, black, white, redneck, English, Swahili way; it’s called growing up. We learn, we think, and then we decide what settles best within our souls.
We Americans have never had our cities, our homes & our neighborhoods destroyed by war. We’ve never had to flee a terrorist regime. We sit in our comfy houses, with central heat to keep us warm, with multiple electronic devices telling what to think or do, or what we should believe. We very casually say, “no, don’t let the Syrian refugees in HERE! They might be bad and kill us.” What if it were the other way around? What if we were fleeing because our city was in tatters, our loved ones gone or dead, no job, no money …… what if it were us? Do you think it’s appropriate for another country to judge our admittance base on the Planned Parenthood shooter? Or the kid who shot up the church? Or the movie theater? Or Columbine? What if Canada closed their borders to Americans because we have too many radicalized, angry young white men with guns?
When we let fear overcome compassion then they have won.
When we refuse humanitarian aid because one of the refugees may become radicalized then they have won.
When we refuse to share our bounty, our abundance of blessings, then they have won.
When we refuse to save lives … well, you know.
America was founded on the tenet of religious freedom. America was founded by refugees who were fleeing an oppressive religious regime. (Yes, I’m speaking of the Europeans and not the native Indians who already had this land – that’s a whole different topic). Have we become so cold, so calculating, that we can’t recall our roots? Why are we here today? Because our ancestors were refugees!
It takes a village to raise a village. When I see a kid get hurt I’m going to comfort him until is momma can. If my neighbor is out of flour I’m going to give him some. If there is no heat for some then we provide them warmth. It’s what we do – as humans first, Americans second.
It’s what we do. Without compassion we are nothing.
Peace, love & every ounce of good cheer,
P.S. My statement that provoked the dumbing down comment:
I never said I was unconcerned about the terrorist incidents. I just don’t think preventing aid to refugees is the answer. The vast majority of them are families. I think compassion should dictate we help. The refugee process isn’t quick. There is a significant vetting process before people are allowed to come here. I’m concerned with any stereotyping that all Muslims are bad and I think we need to be careful about that. In my job I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with many Muslims over the last 10 years. They are honest, loving Americans. Some born here, some not. One went to MIT & is now the CEO of a startup. Another is a neurologist. Another was in our Navy. They are all raising their families & loving America. These are just examples, but I think it’s important to humanize them so we don’t lump them all into one category. Every religion produces zealots, like Westboro Baptist, but the radicalization like the San Bernardino shooters, is going to happen regardless of the refugees. Yes, I would feel the same if a loved one of mine was there. I think saving thousands of refugee lives is just as important as fighting extreme radical terrorists. Without compassion we only have fear and that means the terrorists have already won a major victory.