Commentary: Who Is Your Neighbor?

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!–business.html

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.


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7 Responses to Commentary: Who Is Your Neighbor?

  1. charley ault says:

    First off – great commentary. I try to be as good as I can, I try to step on as few of toes as I can and be good to people – be fair – be somewhat kind – be hard working and expect the same of other people. If we live by that, we make a difference.

  2. Agreed. Great commentary and a great way to start a conversation. With Wisconsin’s finest talking about building a wall on the Canadian border, can we–as a community–sponsor a few of these families? Just a step toward that 53,000 total for Colorado.

  3. ronheard says:

    Hat tip to Mr. Kiljan. Great write-up. I, too, am not churched, but this development out of Syria requires a global and local response. With the finest of our political class clamoring to build a wall with our great neighbor to the north, I suggest as a community that we pull together to bring a few of these refugees here to Arvada–our portion of the 53,000 that Mr. Kiljan stated. Are churches the best mechanism for doing this, or can we as a community accomplish this?

  4. Stan Dyer says:

    We should always do what we can not only to help our neighbors, but to respect them as well. Even if they live halfway across the planet, they are still our neighbors. We can live together in peace. Lending a helping hand is not unlike offering an olive branch, and shows that we truly care about human life.

  5. geoffrey bruce says:

    As a Born Again Atheist I am not quite sure why a philosophy written some five thousand years ago and repeated in many forms and many religions, needs to brought up as decency exists in many philosophies BUT but who could argue with Johns thoughts?

    John – your writing brought tears to my eyes.

    My news sources are generally not American based and I hear of a mouthpiece for a certain political party which espouses xenophobia and blames ills on the White House incumbant and many so called Christians ignore our neighbors across the seas or at home.

    We have ignored the lack of health care for millions of Americans, the loss of millions of homes due to an out of control banking system. Millions in prison for victimless crimes and the highest murder rate in all of the industrialized nations.

    We and refugees are still are paying and will be for many years for a fabricated war.

    Despite a city council stealing our tax dollars and placing them into private pockets all over the country, as john so eloquently has pointed out, compared with so many – we don’t don do so badly.

    We of course would be finically so much better if we could change all those up for election in the forthcoming vote but when the Mayor has unlimited resources to keep his finical misuse of our funds flowing into private pockets such as the Hiltons, The Wall-marts and Goldberg”s.

    $millions will continue to pour into private pockets.

    So Jon – thank you for pointing out the horror created by our money making war and $trillions squandered attacking Iraq and the destruction of the balance of power that has lead to the millions of people now displaced but we still have a problem of huge misuse of out tax money right here in Arvada.

    We need to pay attention to both crime against humanity and our pockets.

  6. ronheard says:

    I sincerely apologize to the Ralston community. My response to Mr. Kiljan’s note veered into the political with a couple of comments. That is not what Nextdoor is all about, and I’m sorry I opened that door. The focus should be all about supporting these refugees in any manner we can.

  7. ronheard says:

    First and foremost. I apologize to the Next-door community. My response to Mr. Kiljan’s note veered off into politics which in not what Nextdoor is all about. And, for that I am sorry. The focus should be all about helping these refugees in any way we can.

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