Syria

The First & Second Generations

The First & Second Generations
Image: Tannis Archive

It has been an interesting last few weeks as I have transitioned back from time away to work and blogging. One of the gifts and challenges, which I have received from more than one regular reader of A Deacon’s Musing, has been about the Syrian refugee crisis. Particularly, whether or not I would be musing and blogging about it.

I always take any and all interaction with readers of the blog very seriously and this has been no exception. I do not believe I have been resistant to this unfolding conversation, but I have been intentional to reflect on what I would say and why. The last thing I would want to do is sensationalise, politicise or exploit a heart-wrenching reality simply for the sake of blogging. I am also aware that The United Church of Canada’s Moderator – Jordan Cantwell – has already shared a message with the denomination, which has been helpful for many. The questions, “Why then would I write and/or what more might I have to add?” have been where the cursor on the screen has remained invitingly blinking …

I have also been reading the most recent issue of geez, “The Decolonization Issue.” As is often the case with geez, it has been a rich, difficult and challenging read. As I have read it, I was reminded about a previous blog – #HonourTheApology – in which I shared some of my own story: specifically my maternal connexion with what was once the Syrian province of the Ottoman Empire and how my own ancestors left Mount Lebanon looking for a better life. Four generations later, I find myself seeing history repeat itself and – dear reader – that feels like the connexion for which I have been waiting to contribute to the current global conversation. I hope – therefore – in the brevity of a blog it is helpful …

First of all – without seeming naïve (I hope) – the Christian response to refugees is rather easy: throw open the doors and help. In fact, again with the hope of not seeming simplistic, all of the Abrahamic traditions (Islam, Judaism and Christianity) are very clear when it comes to the refugees, widows and orphans. There is a clear mandate to help and welcome. It is a central tenant of hospitality to offer care and shelter to those in need. I do not believe anyone would claim that the current crisis is not grounded in profound need!

Second of all … it may be simple, but it is in no way easy! I have seen enough racism and xenophobia, as the crisis continues to unfold, to be reminded that the planks and specks that are in our eyes distract from what faith – yes – demands! Whether through email, social media, Op Eds, or other traditional media, we – the privileged – are scared for multiple reasons … having been immersed in geez, let me offer just one reason why it is not easy.

Gimmee shelter

Gimmee shelter
Image: The Economist

Though I long to embrace a ministry I believe Jesus modelled – one grounded in dignity and an egalitarian discipleship – I am the inheritor of a Christianity complicit in conversion as opposed to hospitality. Though I long for a Canada that embraces a multicultural ideal, in which all are welcome without having to compromise individual or cultural identity, I am a Settler who has inherited land and capital by the suffering and violation of our First Peoples.

So there is a tension for me – for all of us – how do we help those who are in dire need, while also realising we have displaced the very people who should be (at the very least) welcoming them with us. And – at the very best – First Peoples with Settlers mutually welcome those for whom home is no longer safe.

Yes, let us open our doors and hearts! Until there is a collective examination of our complicit connexions to colonialism and consumerism both domestically and globally – we will find it very difficult to do so in the wake of the suffering that we have and do cause. For there to be healing, the individual and collective inner journey must begin …

  • A blog is too short to even claim there is a conclusion or expeditious way to address the global realities that are occurring in which millions are displaced by war, violence and environmental degradation …
  • A blog is too short to confidently claim authority or clarity in the murkiness that are human choices, some made habitually and others intentionally …
  • A blog – hopefully – can make space to be moved in our heart’s space not to judge – others or ourselves – and begin to ask how our own connexions to the Syrian refugee crisis might offer ways to begin to be change …
  • A blog – hopefully – can make space to realise that we have been, are or will be travellers who have had to rend our hearts (for varied reasons) from where we long to be, in order to arrive where we might be safe. And … if we can do that … perhaps we can open ourselves to the Other, as they might one day do for us …

May it be so!

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2016-12-28T23:02:07+00:00 September 18th, 2015|Tags: , , , , , |

Your reflections are most welcome!

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