Commentary: Who Is Your Neighbor?
by John Kiljan
When I read comments in social media about how bad life is getting in Arvada and how the city is certainly headed for destruction caused by the greedy and the uncaring, I sometimes think about the awful things I see daily in the international news. That’s when I’m reminded that we really have it pretty good in Arvada – perhaps better than we realize.
But those international news items also remind me of who our other neighbors are. And some of those neighbors are suffering in ways that are hard to imagine.
The anguish on the face of this Syrian father who just risked his family’s life on a small boat to get to safety in Greece tells volumes about what he went through to escape from a home that was being destroyed. And, the monthly death toll for those who have failed when trying to cross the Mediterranean for asylum is staggering.
Is this our problem? Should we help them? These are very old questions. According to the New Testament, when Jesus was asked by the Jews who was their neighbor, he answered with a parable. We all know it. And if your memory needs a little refreshing here’s a recommended Wikipedia link that also has a lot of information about that story and how it has been interpreted over the centuries.
I’ve made many shorts visits to Germany during my life – often while hitchhiking or cycling. When I’m travelling there, just about all I can think about is the country’s history. You can still see that history in their rebuilt cities, family photo albums and war ruins left as historical reminders. During the 1930s and 1940s, an aggressive Germany caused more destruction and human suffering than any nation in history to date. Yet, I also know from experience that Germans are a good, kind and generous people – people to be admired in many ways, even if they sometimes drive me up the wall with all their rules and their Ordnung obsession.
Countries adjacent to Syria have already accepted 4 million war refugees, and many European countries are accepting large numbers of refugees as well. Yet Germany stands out. This year, Germany, which has a land area that is only a third larger than Colorado, plans to accept into its country 800,000 additional people seeking refuge. And more will be coming next year.
I simply cannot imagine the burden that puts on the German people. We certainly have the room here in Colorado to take these refugees, but would we be willing to accept even a population-proportional 53,000 Middle East refugees moving into Colorado next year, taking up our jobs, taking up our housing, clogging our charity outlets and eating up our social service budgets? That proportional number is half the size of the population of the City of Arvada. It makes you think.
And the Germany that 70 years ago practiced intolerance and genocide has now become the world’s Good Samaritan. Thank you to the people of Germany for what you are doing. Thank you!
There are ways in which we can also help. If you are interested and care on a more personal level, I suggest you first start with your own place of worship. Your church/temple/synagogue may already have a program in place to help these people. I’m not religious, so I often use the Charity Navigator website when deciding the best way to help people who live far away. One of their top-rated charities for helping refugee children can be found at this link:
But do a little research first. There are many other smaller charities that are out there and looking for donations to help in this crisis. They come with both religious and non-religious affiliations.
They may not be Christian, they may not live in Arvada, but they are still our neighbors. And they are still in need – in the same way the man set upon by robbers was in the parable of the Good Samaritan.