Do you remember as a young child, the safety of an embrace from someone you loved and trusted? There is power in that physical act. It brings reassurance to the relationship. It is a sign of security and trust.
It appears that a hug is a nearly universal act. Primates and Humans, from the earliest age, hold on to their protectors and snuggle into their waiting arms. Throughout history, parents have cradled their children. For all time, children have needed the embrace of their parents. Research has proven that skin-to-skin contact provides a reassurance and warmth that we can achieve in no other way. But there are lots of reasons we hug.
Those who shut their ears to the cries of the poor will be ignored in their own time of need. – Prov. 21:13 (NLT)
In his recent article in The Telegraph, writer Stephen King notes, “The Syrian refugee crisis may prove to be no more than a dress rehearsal for what may happen in coming decades.”
The article goes on to predict a major shift in the world demographics as the population of Continental Africa explodes and ongoing civil war and a desire for a better life drives the human migratory patterns of the earth.
For a majority of people around this globe, a belief in a “Higher Power” is a shared experience. Whether Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Jew, Buddhist, Shinto, Bahia or any other number of belief systems, a God of some making is at the core of their belief system.
I grew up in the Methodist church. I went to church camp. I attended Sunday School. Sunday night youth group played a key part of my spiritual and social development throughout my school years. While in college, I worked as a youth pastor at a local Methodist church and after college, I attended Seminary and then entered pastoral ministry for a number of years. While no longer affiliated with the Methodist church, I still believe in one God who is my “Higher Power” and Jesus, as God’s son, is who I follow by the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
For those who don’t adhere to this, it might sound a lot like magical mumbo-jumbo. But I’m okay with that. I accept that I don’t know all. And I understand that I might never fully understand. A central tenant of faith is…well…Faith: Believing in things I cannot see.
Perhaps I’m naive. I will even concede that my perspective may be limited. But I believe, all things being equal, we are a Global Family. We are from one heart. We are from one mind. If you want to be technical and scientific, we come from one very small gene pool. Under our skin, we are all sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles, cousins and parents.
We were refugees once, not so very long ago. We immigrated to this land in the 1600’s, as refugees of religious persecution, seeking the right to freely pursue our beliefs: A noble goal, for sure, but this refugee story is less than noble.
We sought freedom. We sought safety. We longed for a place to call our own. And soon we were no longer visitors. Soon we owned the clubhouse and we now could made the rules.
We expanded our reach and made our way across the land, driving the Native Americans ahead of us; either killing them systematically or forcing them to inhabit desolate wilderness and forsake their way of life.
It’s who we are. It’s a part of our DNA, our story, our very nature. Rather than finding peace, we go to war. Instead of seeking resolution, we raise objection. We choose conflict. We gravitate to the powerful. We are attracted to the brave and valiant rather over the diplomatic and level-headed.
War is as old as recorded history. Murder, even before that.
Typically, by this time of year, the number of refugees crossing the Mediterranean from the northern coast of Africa would have subsided. Rough waters brought on by winter winds and currents would decrease traffic on the sea. However this year, the rush of immigrants continues at an alarming pace, resulting in a higher number of dead and missing persons lost to the cold waters than ever before.
I saw a news report of a man who approached a perfect stranger and punched him in the face. The stranger fell to the ground, never getting up, while the man walked calmly away.
The man who received the blow later died in a local hospital. The man who delivered the blow is still walking for all we know.
I saw a video of a refugee rubber raft that pulled alongside a large vessel in the Mediterranean Sea. While a sailor on the top deck shot the video with his phone, the refugees scraped and clawed to get off the raft and onto the rope ladders hanging from open doors on the port side of the ship. By the end of the short 10-minute video, the raft was sinking, debris littered the water, and the sailor was calmly pointing out drowning and dead bodies.
A man in Yemen lost 27 family members in a single airstrike that hit his home during dinner.
A church burns in Mississippi.
A woman is taken.
A child is abused.
What is our response? How do we act in the face of these stories? They happen while we sleep, literally and figuratively. They’ve become background noise to our busy and toy-filled lives. Random, unwarranted, hateful, hurtful, devastating acts of violence.
It leaves us shaking our heads, bemoaning the state of the world and asking the question, “What can Ido?” Of course, the better question, is one we never ask ourselves, “What will I do?”