Yesterday, someone on Facebook shared a meme that stated, "I don't lock my doors because I hate the people outside my house, I lock my doors because I love the people inside my house."
My heart cracked a bit. The way I see it, this isn't about what keeps us safe here in the US - we have enough trouble keeping us safe from our fellow Americans. From what I've read, this refugee crisis has been an ongoing horrific tragedy for nearly 6 years now. I think until having a massive executive order/ban draw our attention to it, this crisis has been so consistently trickling in the news that we've almost become desensitized to knowing it exists. I say this because I became one of the desensitized. However, this past weekend has rendered me nearly incapable of doing my day to day activities without feeling dirty doing them. I don't even know if "dirty" is the correct word, but I am aware that at the same moment I am eating a hot meal in the safety of our home watching Stranger Things on Netflix, there is a family that may never know what that's like. Not because they couldn't afford a TV or stove top, but because they were never even given a chance in the first place. While I sit in my studio and begin the mixing phases of a song, I've found myself losing attention and instead considering what it would be like to pack up only what Morgan and I would need to (hopefully) survive and just start running. Where? I don't even know.
I think the bigger thing here is that the majority of public eyes are now seeing and feeling the gravity of millions of people running for their lives to a closing door that promises freedom. I think the Syrian Refugee Crisis has perked a lot of our ears; the images and news stories cracking millions of hearts regardless of political party allegiance. Because herein lies a rub that cannot be denied or justified by a ban. The Syrian War has been going on since 2011, and just as we look at the Holocaust shaking our heads and feeling our stomachs turn, we must start seeing this for something bigger than our "safety" here in the US. And because there is more political back-and-forth on social media than I have ever witnessed, I will (try to) leave my political stances and the thoughts of a narcissistic billionaire tyrant dividing and running our country into the ground unspoken. Instead, laying a foundational intention for this blog with a quote I read today:
"Love is a harsh and dreadful thing to ask of us, but it is the only answer." - Dorothy Day
I'm starting to realize the reality this speaks to. The aforementioned Facebook status about locking our doors to keep what's inside safe gives this quote a sad and justifying truth to it. The human tendency is to protect what is ours. But then that begs the question, what is truly ours? Now, permit me to air a little on the side of Christian for the sake of values taught to me on this journey. Firstly, I am convinced we were not put on this earth to gather and protect what is ours; that much I am certain of and at the same moment 100% guilty of as well. Time and time again in the Bible we are taught to love our neighbor, give to the poor; that the last should be put first, blessed are the poor in spirit...if you want to make it to paradise give away everything you own and follow me...and the list goes on. The recurring theme in each of these passages is to see the brokenness and give wholly of oneself to it. When the very foundation of the new church, Jesus Christ, was asked which are the greatest commandments, and he responded, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself," it was intended to go beyond the fences we've put up between us and the Petersen's next door.
And this is why the current crisis is less about keeping certain people out of this country, and more about the call to our culture to counteract the injustices happening all around us. The intention of this post is barely political, and almost entirely in the interest of human lives. I know there are many out there who truly believe this executive order is going to make the US a safer country; and all stats and viewpoints aside this could be true. But if in doing so we prioritize our comfort and safety above and disregard the least of these (the millions and millions homeless) running for their lives in a war torn country; then I have to believe we are missing the point of the very commandment we seek to uphold. **And just to put this fire out before it starts, I am painfully aware and am in no way excluding the poverty, homelessness, sickness, sex trafficking, crime, hunger, inequality, and many other forms of injustice within the borders of this country -- rather, I'm trying to illuminate the source of what I believe to be a growing epidemic.
The truth is, we are far and above the wealthiest country in the world and at the same time we hold the highest rates of depression, loneliness, and suicide. Shane Claiborne says in his book Irresistible Revolution, "We are the richest and most miserable people in the world." If money really doesn't buy us happiness, or at the very least, sustain it, then what can we do? This is the question I've found myself asking over and over again through the weekend.
I WANT TO HELP, BUT WHAT CAN I EVEN DO?
The answer that kept resonating in my head is that I need to give. More. But that was the extent of it, which left me with more questions. Any of you who know me well, know that for years I have been rolling in more debt than money...so what does it mean to give then? I went to church at Elevation's new campus here in Winston-Salem yesterday, and the message spoke to this question and provided me with day's worth of contemplative action plans. The central takeaway I received was that our Creator is not concerned with what we hope to do; rather, hopes we use what we already have now.
When pastor Steven Furtick spoke, "The pain of falling short is nothing compared to the shame of stopping short" I heard, "Do what you can right now with what you have."
So with the big dreams I house, I'll need to start small. Using music as a way to cultivate community, I hope to bring those who support my endeavor closer, and together we can start to support others outside ourselves. Give by giving, knowing that big numbers and big change are an accumulation of the many smaller.
Please stay tuned, I've been digging into organizations and ways to team up so we can begin making a difference through this shared platform from our own neighborhoods to developing countries we've never set foot in. I will be starting to do live Facebook concerts and song giveaways as well. This entity is called COMPANYON for a reason; together we can find ways to help the least of these.