Friday, August 13, 2010

Treat people with respect. . . .

I am just amazed at the reaction to the so-called 'refuge' ship that arrived yesterday with numerous Sri Lankan asylum seekers on board. Every news source that we see keeps asking the question "what is the right thing to do?" It is pretty simple I think - treat them with compassion and care, and do whatever we can to make their situation better. That is what we should always do.

Of course many people in the government and out, love to use a situation like this to demonstrate how 'tough' they are and how they 'hold the line' on people who are out to take advantage of us. But this generally doesn't concern me. I don't believe we should you people as political pawns in a partisan process with which they have nothing to do. Furthermore, I think our ethics on such matters should be clear.

You know, nothing is more distasteful than people like Stephen Harper who consistently claim to live by 'Christian' principle but who wouldn't recognize the 'Prince of Peace' if he dropped on them out of the sky. As I understand the Christian ethic it means you must treat people with love and compassion regardless of who they are or what they do. And I have never seen a proviso in the Gospels that instructs Christians to treat people well unless you suspect that they might do something bad in the future, in which case treat them badly first.

There is something unseemly, and certainly unchristian, about the atmosphere of suspicion that this situation is being treated with. Of course, there is important work to be done concerning identity and possible human trafficking, but that should be done against a backdrop of compassion and care. There are, no doubt, good people out there doing good work and treating the people in appropriately compassionate ways. But this is being overshadowed by the poisonous air of suspicion, doubt, and the occasional disregard for the human aspect of what is happening.

I think the political atmosphere has itself become poison in this country and our government has entirely abandoned the principles of honor, Christian ethics, and respect.This would be considerable less jarring to the mind if they didn't harp on their Christian background and principles.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There was another ship that Canada wanted to, and did, refuse asylum to; the St. Louis, in 1939, because "one was too many", and a ship full, well, unthinkable. At least this ship will dock, but I am afraid if the pitchfork crew had their way, they wouldn't.

Remember this? Following the government's refusal to permit the passengers to disembark, the St. Louis sailed back to Europe on June 6, 1939. The passengers did not return to Germany, however. Jewish organizations (particularly the Jewish Joint Distribution Committee) negotiated with four European governments to secure entry visas for the passengers: Great Britain took 288 passengers; the Netherlands admitted 181 passengers, Belgium took in 214 passengers; and 224 passengers found at least temporary refuge in France. Of the 288 passengers admitted by Great Britain, all survived World War II save one, who was killed during an air raid in 1940. Of the 620 passengers who returned to continent, 87 (14%) managed to emigrate before the German invasion of Western Europe in May 1940. 532 St. Louis passengers were trapped when Germany conquered Western Europe. Just over half, 278 survived the Holocaust. 254 died: 84 who had been in Belgium; 84 who had found refuge in Holland, and 86 who had been admitted to France.

So, will the 2010 Sri Lankan goverment welcome these people back? Or will they be killed too, after trying to flee.