The Refugee Crisis and the Theory of Altriusm
Over the past couple of years, we have experienced an influx of refugees from countries in the Middle East with large Muslim populations such as Syria and Yemen into the western continents such as Europe and North America. This has ignited a polarizing political and social debate not only between opposing political ideologies, but so called “Christians” and philanthropists as well. A debate of whether we should be empathetic human beings by allowing immigrants from third-world countries desolated by war and famine into our first-world countries or not has infiltrated mainstream culture, causing divides between otherwise good-hearted people who have bought into the xenophobic messages spewed by our Political leaders.
The motivation behind many of these people from war-torn counties in the middle east escaping their home counties is because these western countries they are trying to emigrate to such as the United States, England, and France are primarily responsible for the destructive foreign policies that have plagued the middle east and destroyed the lives of millions of people.
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Due to the rise of Terrorism across the globe in the late 20th century and into the 21st century where we currently stand today, it has caused many otherwise compassionate people to turn their backs on their Muslim brothers and sisters while they clutch their pearls about their “Christian Values”. Although these self-proclaimed Christians are not necessarily malevolent people for being wary about immigration and the influx of people from other cultures, Jesus would disagree with their narrow worldview because he believed in helping people from all walks of life and religions no matter what.
The Refugee crisis happening in the middle east is due to a variety of reasons, but some are more prevalent than others. The catastrophic foreign policy of the United States has played a major role in all of this by the persistent bombing of 8 different countries, Arming Saudi Arabia to commit a brutal genocide of innocent women and children in Yemen and arming the same terrorist groups that plague these peoples’ home countries just to name a few.
Mix those same issues with the rise of Political instability and Climate change across the globe, killing off huge portions of the Agriculture sectors in the Middle east which make the region worse off in terms of livability and an enormous refugee crisis is bound to happen. This has caused a Refugee crisis of over 5.6 Million people that have fled Syria since 2011, According to the UN Refugee Agency. What is this Refugee crisis met with in the respective countries whose governments are largely responsible for the horrifying conditions found in the Middle East?
They are met with grotesque degrees of Xenophobia and Bigotry by the Right-wing because of the actions of a small minority that commits atrocities in the name of Islam. This is problematic because many Christians have given into islamophobia and do not want to let these mostly women and children into their respective countries, since they are scared that those people might be part of a terrorist organization like ISIS. This growing sentiment of irrational fear against Muslims has allowed for modern-day authoritarian sophists in countries like The United States, France, England and Brazil to gain power.
This is in large part due to the failure of Western media and political classes in properly representing the facts about what is really going on with the current Refugee crisis. They have deliberately left out objective facts to push a politically charged narrative that would make one think that all the Middle eastern refugees are flooding North America and Europe. What is not being talked about by the Media and political class in the west is that most Refugees from the Middle east, most notably Syria do not emigrate to these Western countries.
According to The UN Refugee Agency, Turkey holds the majority of Syrian Refugees at over 3 million people. In Lebanon, 1 in 4 people are Refugees from Syria. Politicians such as Donald Trump from the United States and Marine Le Pen from France would have the public believe that the Islamic faith contains a violent set of ideas that are harmful to Western Civilization, therefore we should not Muslim refugees into their respective countries. However according to Jesus Christ, this would be the incorrect way of looking at the international refugee crisis.
According to Matthew 9:36, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” This quote from the Gospel of Matthew about Jesus Christ perfectly illustrates the current situation we are seeing today. The Muslim refugees are Harassed because they are constantly linked with Terrorists, and Helpless because they are poor and trying to make a better life for their family. These Christians who shun these people are missing the most important thing of all of Christs’ teachings, Compassion and Altruism.
Jesus Christ’s Theory of Altruism stems from the Gospel of Matthew found in The New Testament of the Holy Bible. It is addressing the harsh treatment of the sick and poor at the time. The meek (the humble), The sick and the poor were all seen as irredeemable sinners and pariahs by the rest of society. In most instances, many families would abandon their own sick family members who had leprosy because they did not want to be contaminated with sin. The poor were often spat upon by the commoners and treated worse than dogs.
Jesus Christ was different towards the rest of society to these people, as According to Matthew 5:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” This caused controversy between the commoners because their Culture was built around a certain sense of piety where money and health equaled blessings from god, and poverty and sickness equaled irredeemable sin.
This worldview was suddenly flipped on its head by Jesus Christ, who would educate anyone who wanted to listen to him. Ideas of vanity, disdain of those below them and incorrect methods of worshipping god were met with Humility, love of one’s neighbor, and trust in god. Jesus would argue that those with less are the most blessed because material things like money and wealth corrupt and consume those who serve it. This can be seen in Matthew 6:24 where Jesus stated, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.
You cannot serve both God and money.” Jesus’ wisdom and growing base of followers threatened those in power at the time who benefitted from having an ignorant population who did not know how to read, write or think for themselves. Suddenly, the Jewish people of Bethlehem (Jerusalem) as well as Romans and Muslims were following the Jesus Christ as he offered a more benevolent perspective of those whose lot in life is not as fruitful as theirs and those from different walks of life.
As we Analyze the Theory of Altruism by Jesus Christ and compare it to the current Refugee crisis that we are currently seeing, the relevance is astonishing and clear as day. The poor, meek and sick are represented by the Men, Women and Children who are attempting to seek asylum to provide a more dignified quality of life for themselves. They are often treated as violent subhuman vermin by the general population because of Ignorance, just like the people of Bethlehem treated the lepers because of a misguided sense of morality and sin.
During the time of Jesus Christ, the elitist patrician class benefitted from having a population who towed the line of religion and didn’t possess the ability to read or write Latin because it allowed them to control the flow of information that would circulate the population. These Patricians would also blame the problems everyone faced on those who are most vulnerable, The meek the sick and the poor. This was done to direct the blame of the hardships endured by the plebeians towards those in the lowest rungs of society.
Today we see the fears of people exploited by deflecting blame from those in power who rob the people they swore to represent towards those in society who have virtually no power. The victims of irrational discrimination are no longer the lepers, but our brothers and sisters of the Islamic faith. They are misaligned with terroristic groups such as ISIS who practice Wahhabism and do not represent the Muslim population, which is estimated to be about 1.6 Billion since 2010 According to The Pew Research center.
The Syrian refugees have been met with threats of mass deportations in countries like the United States where current President of the United States, Donald J. Trump pledged in a New Hampshire campaign rally to deport all Syrian Refugees stating that: “They could be ISIS, I don’t know. This could be one of the great tactical ploys of all time. A 200,000-man army, maybe.” This statement is not foreign to President Trump as it is false. According to the Migration Policy Institute: “18,007 Syrian Refugees were resettled in the United States between October 1, 2011 and December 31, 2016.”
The notion that most of these refugees are able-bodied men is false, since 75% of all Syrian Refugees are women and children, according to the Borgen Project. Worst of all, this rejection of refugees is done by people who claim to have Christian values and follow the Word of Jesus Christ. Jesus did not turn away Muslims because of their faith, but many Christian westerners are. Jesus did not demonize groups of people because of anecdotes, yet many Christian westerners are.
In my final analysis, I leave the audience with some food for thought. Would a good Christian Man or Woman who claims to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ himself turn down another human being because of their religious affiliation? Jesus himself had people from various religions like Muslims and Jews listen to his words of wisdom and He didn’t care what religion those people were. Why does a Christian have the right to judge others for their religion and vilify them while Jesus Christ never did such a thing?
Jesus Christ’s solution to this refugee dilemma would be to allow these women and children to gain Asylum into not just the United States, but other countries like England, France, Germany, etc. According to Matthew 11:28, Jesus Christ stated: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” My call to action towards not just westerners, but other countries around the world is to follow the altruistic words of the Thinker Jesus Christ. Let’s stop looking at the Muslim refugee crisis through a paranoiac lens and more as a humanitarian crisis because at the end of the day, your religion means nothing if you refuse to be a good person and help those in need.