“Myanmar migrants on a boat stranded for a week in the Andaman Sea with no food or water say 10 people have died, while some are resorting to drinking urine.” (BBC News 14 May 2015)
“Nearly 2,000 migrants are estimated to have lost their lives attempting the perilous sea crossing from North Africa to Europe in 2015, and it’s not even fully five months into the year.” (CNN 13 May 2015)
“A UK warship rescued about 450 people from the Mediterranean on Wednesday. The UN estimates that 60,000 people have already tried to cross the Mediterranean from North Africa this year. More than 1,800 migrants have died – a 20-fold increase on the same period in 2014.” (BBC News 13 May 2015)
These are the daily headlines and stories. I wonder how many details people read before selecting a different story. I wonder if they probe the faces well photographed to feel the anguish of mothers and children floating on abandoned boats by smugglers. What is the supposedly civilized world focusing on these days?
This morning I took the time to study the tenets of the major religions of the countries most affected by the immigrants attempting and succeeding in seeking shelter. In Southeast Asia I searched Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam. I didn’t need to probe so deeply Europe’s Christianity or my own Judaism to learn what we consider humanitarianism. The first precept is to save human life and do nothing to abet its termination. Yet in Asia, Australia and Europe this precept is subject to debate. Why is there a question? People are risking their lives to escape secular persecution, lack of basic human rights, summary executions for being the “others”. In the United Nations and in the capitals of the rich and powerful nations of the world, leaders and diplomats argue over responsibility and cost.
Americans in the disunited states are as guilty as the British or Thais in talking while people are dying at sea by the hundreds. Americans in the disunited states are divided over what to do about their own immigrants. They have a government that can’t arrive at a definitive policy that will reduce or eliminate the number of deaths, rapes, and sequestration for ransom perpetrated upon those who have fled from similar circumstances as the Africans and Asians who occupy today’s headlines.
Americans have learned nothing from their own history regarding preserving lives in imminent danger in their native countries. What does the S.S. St. Louis mean to you? If you don’t know, Google it and learn of just one more shame staining the U.S. flag. How many of you gripe at the number of recent Syrians who have gained asylum? Do you ever wonder where you would try to go if your ethnic or religious group became victimized by another group in the U.S.? Do you think the U.S. is immune to such a secular division? A religious division by fanatics as strongly pro-fundamentalist as Islamic State, al Qaeda or Taliban? A political division fomented by nationalists as we’ve seen gathering as militias in Idaho or at Tea Party meetings near your house?
Doesn’t it seem contradictory that the crowd that shouts about American values and a Christian nation is the same mob that seeks to deport the helpless albeit willing to pay their return fare? That wears WWJD bracelets and crosses around their necks don’t get Matthew 25:35-40? You know, the part that says, “35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
How can any self-declared “civilized” human being deny life to any other human being? How can any person of power and authority not take whatever steps are needed to allow these migrants to drown at sea, to close your ports to their landing, to direct them to return from whence they came? I do not recognize you and I as being of the same species.