Would you harbor me? Would I harbor you?
Would you harbor a Christian, a Muslim, a Jew, a heretic, convict, or spy?
Would you harbor a runaway woman or child, a poet, a prophet, a king?
Would you harbor an exile or a refugee, or person living with AIDS?
Would you harbor a Tubman, a Garrett, a Truth, a fugitive or a slave?
Would you harbor a Haitian, Korean, or Czech, a lesbian or a gay.
– Ysaye Barnwell
Ysaye Barnwell’s haunting song* offers a soul-searching challenge, and speaks to a question that is prevalent in the news: who will harbor the refugees? Currently the question is about refugees from Syria, but several sources predict** that as the effects of climate change increase, droughts, floods and storm damage will drive many more people from their homelands. Syria had their worst drought in history from 2007-2010, and this is one of several root causes for the unrest in this country. Droughts around the world right now include Puerto Rico, Haiti, California, Texas, Guatemala, Spain, Ethiopia, and many other locations. If predictions are true, we are likely to see mass migrations, and increased violence, across the globe as people struggle to survive over the next few decades.
I passed a church sign in front of a Methodist church in Decatur, Georgia offering safe harbor with the words, “Welcome Refugees.” There are people ready to respond to the need to provide shelter for people coming to our shores seeking safe harbor. And, a deep foundation of fear has developed in this country that seems to be preventing us from opening our doors to those in need. This fear is fed in part by 24-hour news organizations with profit-motives; extremists of every variety striving to suffocate others; and, politicians vying for power and position. Recent bombings in Beirut, Paris, Mali, and now the threats in Brussels, have raised fears to new levels.
People of good hearts, people of good faith, people who stand on the side of love, need to respond to this fear with the courage of their convictions. Conquering our fear requires consistent spiritual practice. We are being called to seek that sense of deep connection within the interdependent web of life, and tap into our core values and sense of purpose to put our inherent gifts and available resources to work. How will Americans, our local communities, you, or I respond? From what well will we draw the kindness and love necessary to meet the challenges ahead? Christians ask, “What would Jesus do?” It’s a good question. We might also ask, “What would I do?”
– Time Magazine: http://time.com/4024210/climate-change-migrants/
– Natural Resources Defense Council: http://www.onearth.org/earthwire/climate-change-human-migration-syrian-refugee-crisis
– National Geographic: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2015/03/150302-syria-war-climate-change-drought/