The recent terrorist attacks in France have resulted in two polarizing positions regarding North America’s desire to welcome several thousand refugees from the war torn middle-east.
Many US governors have decided against receiving refugees due to the probability terrorists would infiltrate this migration into the United States and plan attacks similar to those in Paris.
A similar outcry reverberates through Canada’s media against the new government’s unrealistic attempt to bring in 25,000 Syrian refugees by this year’s end. In addition to the logistical challenges it faces, the foremost concern is lack of time to ensure adequate security checks.
Justin Trudeau’s promise shows the other extreme: the primary need of a humanitarian response to the suffering of those displaced by war that outweighs other concerns. Few would deny the need for some level of compassionate response.
So on which side of this balance should we err: enforcing thorough security checks that would slow down the process to a trickle, or letting large numbers in quickly that would present a potential danger to Canadians?
Here are some thoughts I have considered to think through and determine my own response. Perhaps they may be helpful to you.
First, no level of security will ensure zero attacks. Apart from those infiltrating into this country, we have enough youth ripe for radicalization within Canada. We are all aware of planned attacks thwarted by our own security, while others, unhappily, have caused death and grief.
Second, Ann and I had the privilege of mixing with a group of Muslims from Iran during our time living at the coast. They, like ourselves, and probably ninety percent or more of those desiring to enter Canada, all seek the same: a place of relative peace, security, and opportunity, in which to raise a family away from the dangers of war.
Third, I consider my personal ability to live in a free democratic society as an accident of geography. Born in England and able to travel freely, Ann and I immigrated to Canada in 1965. So I find it hard to deny others the same free life simply because they were born in a place of conflict.
Fourth, I have to ask myself what cost am I prepared to bear to allow others that same privilege? Yes, there is risk in letting in thousands of refugees. Some entering this country may also seek my destruction. That in turn begs the question: what price was paid to allow me to live in peace and security for eternity with God?
I might pay the ultimate cost, but the chances of that happening are far less than dying in my car. Certainly, security tests are necessary to provide sufficient protection for Canadian citizens. But should the fear of a remote chance of being a victim deter me from aiding those in need?
I cannot speak for others whose lives may be at risk; they must speak for themselves. But my faith cals me to follow my convictions and listen to the voice of Jesus:
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’” Matthew 25:37-40.