Welcoming the Syrian Stranger Takes More Strength Than Bombing Syrian Air Bases.

imageThe children gassed and terrorized in Syria by President Bashar Assad, they’re the same children our president has previously banned from entering our country through his discriminatory and racist Executive Orders. Think about that. Yet President Trump has now become so outraged at seeing these same innocent babies being gassed, that he has taken “decisive” military action against Syria by bombing an air base.

Explain to me why America can’t now welcome those same refugees? Because we choose not to, that’s why. We choose fear and bombs. Where is the outrage from the Evangelical “Christians” over how these innocent Syrians are being persecuted, terrorized and murdered and this country’s continued pathetic and  unChristan response? When do we become merciful rather than vengeful? At some point we as Americans must be willing to show our strength as much through our hearts as we think we do through our show of perceived might. Do we understand that?

At times such as these, when the smallness of our humanity lifts up our sinfulness, where do we turn? Remember when it was popular to ask “What would Jesus do?” We don’t need to find Jesus again. He’s always been here. But following Jesus is really messy. Welcoming the stranger, as we’re called to do in Matthew, that’s messy. The Bible is filled with calls to do justice, and that’s also messy.

We don’t like “messy,”  because  that means we need to do hard things, like stop being constantly afraid of strangers, actually helping the stranger (our Syrian neighbor),  and getting beyond our own small, self absorbed, on line world where it’s all about us. Because, at the end of the day, it’s not all about us.  Canadians  seem to be able to get that. So why can’t we as Americans?

President Obama knew, at least intellectually,  that the Syrian situation was a quagmire with no good solution and he elected not to get involved. Still, his drawing of imaginary lines in the sand and then doing nothing when Syria crossed them while the chaos and death continued did not seem to me to be consistent with who America claims to be.

My anxiousness today comes from having a president in charge with no foreign policy or government experience and whose actions to date have demonstrated a total inability to think out the consequences of his actions. He’s reactionary and small. That’s just how he rolls. That, to me, is terrifying.

President Trump has now plunged America into a Syrian conflict. Some might say he did so illegally, since he failed to go to Congress as the Constitution requires. Either way, we’re in. The last time a Republican president did this, it did not end well for anyone.

But now what? What happens when the praise for our president’s “decisiveness” and that his fragile ego craves begins to erode and things become. . . messy? As history has shown us, these conflicts do become messy and inevitably deteriorate. Where will the Syrian children lay their heads and find comfort while our bombs continue and then when they cease, and Americans lose their taste for this  war? Because we know that will happen.

In a White House where up is down, black is white, and where they make up their own facts as they go, who can we believe and trust when we need to believe and trust?  We have a president who changes his mind and position daily and seemingly as the Fox News cycle or latest celebrity criticism crosses his limited path. And now he’s bombing other countries.

Sometimes our president and we as Americans appear to forget that each innocent baby we see killed in Syria on the news or our Facebook feed has a name, a story. Yet the president and the rest of America can choose to watch Fox News – or turn off the news and watch a cat video. But each refugee still has a name, and a story, just like you, me, and our children and grandchildren. These unnamed refugees can’t turn off the nightmare that is their reality.  They are being killed and terrorized by their own government. They can’t look the other way. And neither can we.

America does have choices. This does not have to be just an “either/or situation. We can choose to be as bold and strong of heart and character in our humanitarian efforts as we have decided to be in our military efforts as we finally try and “help” Syrians. What does truly helping look like? Let us not just bomb the air bases of those killing and terrorizing the innocent babies in Syria, but let’s challenge our leaders to venture into the messiness and uncertainty of being the Christian and humanitarian American people we profess to be. That means actually opening both our hearts and our borders and welcoming Syrian refugees, not just as strangers, but as our fellow children of God, called by name.  It’s what truly makes America great.