Let’s Not Close Our Hearts (and minds) To Syrian Refugees

Me as a baby. My parents were teenagers and we didn't have much of anything but damn was I lucky to be born in the United States of America through no fault of my own. Pure luck.
Me as a baby. My parents were teenagers and we didn’t have much of anything but damn was I lucky to be born in the United States of America through no fault of my own. Pure luck.

If you are an American and you’re reading this then there’s a good chance that at some point in the past your ancestors made a brave journey to a new land. Some of them were welcome and some were not. For many, it was an easy transition but for most it was probably very difficult to start a new life in an unfamiliar land with people who did not welcome them. Either way, you can call yourself an American today because of the decisions made way back when.  Let me reiterate; you’re able to sit on your couch and yell at your TV about recent events because people you never met made decisions you had nothing to do with yet you’ve been reaping the benefits ever since.

Let that sink in. You’re a lucky son of a bitch. Whether you make minimum wage or a six -figure income. Whether you’re in need of government assistance or  you can afford college without taking out hefty loans.. You have been born with a certain amount of social status in the world class system simply by being born in the United States of America.

When people are publicly announcing that Syrian refugees are not welcome in our country it saddens me because our knee-jerk reaction should not be to isolate an entire group of people without taking a moment to see if there are other options that might be more beneficial for everyone involved.

Some people are saying,” I’m looking out for me and mine. Better safe than sorry.” but what if that was the sentiment when your ancestors were looking for a place to settle? If we do have another terrorist attack on U.S. soil it will not be because we legally and thoughtfully allowed those seeking refuge a safe place to call home.

During our country’s heyday of immigration there was still war, famine and extremists but we sent out a message: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

These terrorist groups want us to turn our backs to those in need because then they can pounce on their desperation. If Syrian refugees have no safe places to go then ISIS and Al Qaeda suddenly become viable options as a way to provide for their families. It can cause them to detest the Western world. These extremists want these refugees to wander because once they see that there is no other place for them anywhere else they’ll have no choice but to go back to their war torn homes and submit to those who destroyed their lives in the first place.

But what if the world opened their hearts to those who so desperately need it. What if we said, “We are more happy to do our part and take some of you, not all but some. We want to help.” The load shouldn’t be one country or economic system but everyone place has room for some.

Jack Markell, the Governor of Delaware has gone against the grain and let it be known that he will not shut his borders to those in need. Instead, he has a legal and attainable plan that can make a difference in some people’s lives. Read it and decide it it sounds unreasonable to you. Let it put things in perspective. What if his sentiment was the status quo. How would America be seen? Probably as a country of people who are grateful for the opportunities that have been afforded to them and wants to repay the blessing is some small way.

One day we’re going to have to be OK with the decisions we made in the past. We turned away Jews during the Nazi Germany era. We imprisoned over 120,000 Japanese-Americans during WWII. Do we really want to look back and see that history has once again repeated itself in a negative way? Was our reputations for compassion so fleeting?

You can call me naive and stupid for what I’ve written but let me point out that I fully understand why people want to close the borders. I don’t think you’re stupid, I think you’re scared.

I just want to encourage people to take a step back and look at the situation from a different perspective. That is all.

Published by Ashley Zoerner

I'm originally from New Orleans, LA and grew up in the nearby town of Waveland, MS. I graduated from Georgia State University with a communications degree in 2010. Since then I've traveled the country and world meeting the most interesting people. My dream is to tell people's stories and share my passions with the world.

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