Syrian refugees and my family motto
Syrian refugees and my family motto
My family has a motto. It is derived straight out of the Old Testament Book of Micah:
“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)
Every night when my wife and I are huddled up in the bed with our five and two year old we tell stories, laugh at crazy toddler jokes about poop, thank Jesus for our favorite candy, best friends at school and for each other. Then we recite our motto and ask Jesus to help us live it out. Line by line we each recite the following:
Do Justice, Love Kindness, Walk Humbly.
Of course for toddlers this is just another thing that we do as a family. That is, until we find ourselves forgetting to live this out among each other. If my son is being selfish I’ll ask him: “Ro are you “loving kindness” right now?” If my daughter tries to take a toy away from my son I’ll ask: “Sissy are you “doing justice” right now?” In most cases they not only respond with the correct answer, but they actually understand the meaning of the concept.
The point is, if Micah 6:8 has the power to teach, correct, and transform toddlers who are acting in the most raw and basic of human instincts, how radically transformative could our lives become if we operated by these same basic principles? I believe this is the secret to peacemaking: that a person would understand and live out the most basic but radical lifestyle where the frame by which we operate seeks to accomplish the following:
Do Justice: Seek to make things right.
Love Kindness: With a compassionate heart treat others the way you want to be treated.
Walk Humbly: Living with the knowledge and belief that every person is equally valuable and that we are all in need of an equal amount of grace.
So what does it look like to live this out within the complexities of the modern world? Lets apply these principles to what has become the largest forced migration of people since WWII, the Syrian refugee crisis. When I think about this Crisis, I think about it along these lines:
- What does it look like to do justice? That is, how can I participate in making things right for Syrian refugees? For me it looks like advocating on their behalf; encouraging others to warmly welcome them into our city so that they can live in a safe place with opportunity to rebuild what was destroyed and lost; shed light on the politics of fear and bias surrounding the crisis; and personally journey with a family once they arrive.
- What does it look like to love kindness? I have to begin by placing my self and my family in the place of those in need. That is, I begin to think about what it would be like if it were my family who was fleeing war and were in need of rescue. My compassionate response would have to take this seriously and inspect it honestly. In doing this, I have come to the realization that I would let nothing in the way of bringing my wife, son, and daughter to safety.
- What does it look like to walk humbly? For me it begins by understanding that I am just as broken and in need of grace as every Syrian refugee. Whether Muslim or Christian, we are all equally valuable. Regardless of language or religion, cultural similarities or differences, our human equality trumps all other distinctions. Therefore, a humble response is one that draws no lines or divisions based on differences. Muslim refugees are as equally welcome as Christians.
As a (aspiring) peacemaker, I find more-than-not, that peace and justice are not terribly complex. Rather, it is the way that we all-to-often find ways to devalue the “other” that makes things so difficult and issues so complex. In pursuing justice, with kindness, in humility we will find ways to care for those in need regardless of what obstacles may arise. I encourage you (for your sake) and implore you (for their sake) to think on and live out these principles. I believe the transformation of the world depends on it.
Grace and peace to you.