I've been having a hard time this month. First my church clarified some handbook statements about the rights of gay parents to have children baptized into my church. It put a lot of people on edge on both sides of the debate and I was no exception. I don't know if I've mentioned this before but I have two baby brothers who are gay. There was a time in my life when that maybe would have caused me a lot of distress about their eternal salvation but through a series of a lot of seemingly random discoveries that I choose to believe was God's loving hand when this news first came to me I was actually prepared to hear it and just accept them in love. It did cause me quit a bit of personal distress though on how my support of them would be perceived within my church especially because my church was fighting so hard to prevent the possibility of gay marriage. I talked with very few people about this over the last four years but within the last year have been much more open about it because I've found that people are more likely to soften their commentary a little bit if they know a particular issue personally affects you. That being said I did not share this information with any ecclesiastically leaders and for the last two years I had been without my temple recommend because there is a question that ask:
- Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
I agonized over this question quit a bit over the last couple of years. I do support and agree with a group or individual whose teachings are contrary to those accepted by the Church. I fully support my brothers and I also fully support their right to the government's recognition of their unions should they so choose to make one. I didn't know how to talk to my leaders about that though and so for years I just didn't. I had talked with several family members and friends and they had all encouraged me to just rush over that question because they felt it was none of the leader's business but that just felt wrong to me. I wanted to be honest. So after all these years I finally got the courage to bring it up and just let the chips fall where they would and so a few months ago I met with my bishop. When we got to that question I just laid it all out there and do you know what this is what he said, "No one expects you to not be supportive of your family." And so I was able to get my recommend but then just a few short weeks later we actually had a statement put out by the church saying that if you were a child of gay parents that in order to be baptized you would have to disavow homosexuality and gay marriage first. The definition of disavow is to deny any responsibility or support for. So basically we are asking children of gay parents to do something I am not willing to do myself. It left me very confused about my own place within the church and very sad for any families that this would negatively affect. Even within my own family it caused a ripple. I was raised with six of my siblings and am really only one of two who still goes to church but my other siblings still had records with the church. This was enough though for them to decide they were ready to permanently pull their records. This is all happening while I'm trying to plan a baptism for Gigi next Saturday. It has left me emotionally raw. I feel like I almost need to apologize to my siblings who are leaving for what I'm doing. I feel like I need to justify myself, to remind them that I will raise her to be like me and that if in the future she or any of my kids are homosexual that I will do everything in my power to protect and support them. I almost feel like I need to apologize to myself and possibly her future self if this is something she later comes to regret. In some ways I think it would be easier not to baptize her at all, to just let go of this church and my frustrations at it's historical and some current decisions. But I love church. I'm a church going girl. I'm a science girl as well and there is a part of me that recognizes that there is possibility that my brain is just tricking me out but even with that recognition I believe in God and Jesus Christ. I believe that they are there for me, that the spirit has born witness to me of their existence, that I've seen miracles in my own life and that I will be happiest living a life based on good works and trying to follow the example of Jesus. I think regardless of where I would have been born I would have been a church going kind of girl. Some people are just like that. The Church of Jesus Christ is the church in which I've experienced all of these things. I don't know if I would have picked it had I just been randomly out there searching for churches but it picked me and I'm just not ready to let that go. But it does put me in this awkward place were I just don't quite fit and I feel angry and apologetic toward everyone all at the same time.
So this frustration is just the undertone of my life right now and then on top of that we had the terrorist attacks in Paris. How sad have those been. They are just horrible. All those people, all that fear and horror. It is awful. The people who have committed those acts are evil. They are terrible people. They are the worst. Their groups and leaders deserve to be hunted out and killed or imprisoned, but along with the anger I have toward them for the crimes against humanity and bodies and souls of all their victims I am also angry at them because they have ignited a firestorm of anti refugee policy and speech, my uncle says it is just anti terrorist policy but it doesn't seem that way to me. My facebook feed, my neighborhood e-mail site, the conversations among my family and friends has become littered with some of the most hateful ridiculous things I've ever heard them say. People are using this for political gain under the guise of safety. They are trying to score political brownie points and in doing so they are frothing people up so that they won't think reasonably. For the most part I've tried to stay out of it. I had this one huge blow up on my friend's blog and ended up getting into it a little with her brother-in-law but honestly what is the point. No one's opinions ever change because of fights on blogs or Facebook or even honestly in person. Very few people are really willing to listen to anything that doesn't support their own point of view once they've made an opinion about it. Honestly guys I'm the same so I get it, but on this one thing I'm just asking people to not completely close off the option of having refugees come into this country. I'm not asking for a free for all, I'm not saying that we shouldn't be cautious, or that people shouldn't be vetted but I am saying that when we look at what is happening in that country and other countries like it, when we see how desperate people are to flee that situation that we have a little compassion and try and figure out what we can do to help them without assuming the worst of all of them. Also if you see any of the below arguments please don't like them. They are terrible and I think less of you and the person who wrote them when I see them.
1) This country is great because we are willing to make hard sacrifices like Japanese Internment Camps or the Trail of Tears. I actually saw a poem about this on one of my extended family member's facebook page. I'm assuming the guy who posted it didn't write it because I've seen similar ideas coming from varied sources. I honestly just don't know what to say to people who think it is OK to post this. Japanese Internment Camps and the Trail of Tears are black eyes on our history. They were awful things that our ancestors did, the kind of things we study in history not because they should be replicated but because we need to remind ourselves that we should never allow ourselves to get carried away like that again. The fact that people have turned it into something to be proud of, well it is sickening. As far as the Internment Camps go there was and is no proof that they were ever necessary for safety. Instead we ruined the lives of many Japanese Americans, robbing them of property and dignity even while they had sons and husbands fighting for our side in Europe. And the trail of tears, let's imagine for a second that another country invades our country, like maybe Canada decides to get a little big for it's britches. They are going to hit us with biological warfare and they are going to push us off our land and they are going to kill us with superior weapons but nope we aren't going to do anything about it because why, because they are obviously stronger and so they have the right to do this. Yikes. Read a history book or watch a documentary or help a sixth grader do their history homework and remind yourself that some of the things Americans have done were horrible and we should never do them again.
2) The grape analogy, oh the grape analogy. It goes something like if you had 100 grapes and you knew one was poison would you eat the grapes. I guess the idea being that some of these people might be bad so we should not risk our personal safety to save all the other little grapes that aren't. I just would like to point out that we eat poison grapes all the time. I mean we literally take and accept risk all the time for things we want. I'll give you three examples. First the statistics floating out there say that woman at college have a 1/5-1/3 chance of being raped while they are there. First off this is horrible. I mean get our acts together America because it really is shameful, but if we were just going to look at it from say we should avoid all things that put us at risk we would stop sending girls to college or we would just preemptively start locking up men. We obviously don't. We obviously think there is some benefit to woman going to college and that we can't just assume all men could become rapist just because some do. Second, 10,000 people a year die in US from car accidents caused by drunk driving. 10,000 people a year die because we as humans are too stupid to realize we've had enough and we should just sleep it off in the back seat. Two percent of that amount of people died in a terrorist attack caused by none of the refugees and now people are writing letters to their representatives demanding that we not let any refugees in. Why don't you write your representatives insisting that alcohol be banned again or that all cars have alcohol readers installed in them or that the consequences for drunk driving be much higher. You would actually save a lot more lives if you could get some traction there. Finally what about assault weapons. Every time there is a mass shooting in this country our president goes on TV and pleads with congress to ban automatic guns and every time we have people get upset and say that he is overreacting, that it isn't the guns fault, that we have a constitutional right to have them, that the answer is actually to arm more citizens and on and on. Look I'm not going to argue if guns are good or bad. We actually own a twenty-two and I was raised by a guy who thinks handguns make good birthday gifts. I don't particularly like guns but I actually see the point of hunting rifles and while I personally don't want a handgun for personal protection I understand that a lot of people do but putting automatic weapons or magazines that shot more than ten rounds in the hands of just your everyday person, why? Why do we need that? Sure maybe they are fun to shoot but they also do massive damage when used in these mass shooting. Yet it is an acceptable risk we are willing to take. If you hold to the grape analogy you'd say heck no. I don't ever want another Sandy Hook on my conscious so get rid of all guns, but we don't do that, we accept the risk. We accept the risk on all of these things and many many more. We are willing to chance a poison grape now and then for our deeply held convictions, benefit, or conveniences. We are being told that people are starving to death, that they are drying of exposure, that they are being hunted down and killed, that the countries that have opened their doors to them are swamped and need our help but we are so worried about the one grape that we are willing to let all the others wither on the vein. It just doesn't hold true to our own personal risk analyses practices.
3) The argument that other Arab countries should be taking care of this problem and not us. Currently there are between 2 1/2 to 3 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan. We were committed to taking 10,000. Even if we were going to take the 250,000 that Donald Trump has been so recklessly throwing around (we aren't) we'd still be taking far less than the number of people who have been displaced and are currently residing in other Arab countries.
4) The argument that we should be helping our homeless vets or our own poor first. This one really gets my goat. Do you currently help homeless people or vets or homeless vets or poor people? Do you vote for people who put into place programs to help these people or do you vote for people who gut the money out of these programs and say that people should just pull themselves up by their boot straps? Are you the kind of person who on more than one occasional has complained that taking care of the poor is not the government's job? Yeah, I thought so. There are programs to help homeless vets. They need more funding and more volunteers and we can all help with that so let's get to it. Let's volunteer our time and vote for better candidates but while we are at it our country can also still help with this Refugee Crisis.
5) The argument that there is a disproportionate amount of young men fleeing Syria. Last time I checked you have four main military groups fighting it out there. There is Asad, there is Isis, there are the Kurds, and there is the Resistance. What do you think these groups are going to do when they come across your teenage or young adult son? They are either going to kill them or try and conscript them into their army. I think people have forgotten that sort of thing used to happen in this country and in Europe all the time to boys that were found alone. Imagine how much heightened that type of behavior would be during a war. If you had a son you would want to get him out as well.
These are the things I think about when I see these arguments and they just make me crazy but like I said for the most part I've tried to just discuss it with my friends who I knew held similar opinions because I didn't want to start facebook or blog fights. Yesterday though my hubby posted a paragraph telling people that he would be willing to sponsor a Syrian family and that people should look at this tragedy from a more humane perspective. Most people were fairly supportive. We are friends with a lot of Physicians and people who studied the Middle East in college and as a general rule those types of people tend to be more, I'm just going to say more like us. His uncle got on though, this is a pretty smart guy but I think he probably is very limited in the news sources he chooses to believe, and basically said that J was naive and uniformed about the risk and that he wouldn't really want refugees in his city or neighborhood. I let my annoyance get the better of me and I reminded his uncle that we are willing to take those kinds of risk for things we believe in. I also reminded him that this was a region we've been to before and that J has studied extensively during his undergrad and PhD years and that we discuss quit often and stay current on. I also pointed out that we aren't looking for a free for all, we are just saying that vetted refugees should have the opportunity to start over, and I concluded my response by saying I didn't think it was fair of him to accuse J of being a hypocrite considering he is one of the best of us. My cousin then said, "The best of us" humble and modest.... Good grief. I just had to get the heck out of there. Look regardless of how you feel about this issue there are people suffering and dying. Some are young men people would rather fear than help I guess but lots of others are old people, woman, and children. There are babies and pregnant woman. It is horrible. We don't have any ability to do anything about the bigger policy or religious issues but regardless of if you are for refugees or against them coming to our country please at least help in any way you can. Doctor's without borders is there, UNICEF, SAMARITIAN'S Purse, Hand in Hand for Syria, shoot even my own church is collecting money. Do something, collect something, hold a fund raiser, send a baby carrier, just put a few extra dollars in your tithing envelope, do something anything and then you won't have to feel bad when I say this is a humanitarian effort that we should all be joined together on because you will be doing your part and maybe just maybe we can come to a place where we can help and be as safe as possible.