Another thought on Malala’s story . . . which has been running through my head a lot, what with the controversy surrounding Trump’s so called “Muslim Ban”. Her perspective during this time and context is interesting and enlightening.
The life Malala describes in Pakistan is not easy, even without the terrorists and bombings. It blows my mind that I had good friends who lived here. When I lived in the Caribbean, several of my close friends were from Pakistan. They saw these things. Bombings and death and lawlessness – nothing new to them. I remember seeing a news bite that a bombing had occurred in Lahore, Pakistan, where my one friend was from. When I told him about it, he was completely unfazed. He laughed at me! “Brit, that happens all the time there.” How can we in America even conceive that kind of life?
Something I found very interesting was Malala’s father considering becoming a suicide bomber. The way Malala describes him, her father seems to be a compassionate and good man. He rose out of poverty and never stopped pursuing his dream of building his own school. He had a terrible stutter, but he wanted to make his father proud. So, he entered a speech competition, and practiced his speech for hours upon hours while walking in the valley. He managed to become a great and charismatic speaker and leader, and created a great school, despite numerous financial difficulties, natural disasters, family problems, and Taliban and religious persecution. A great man, it seems. And yet, at one time, he considered becoming a suicide bomber, because he was taught the great honor and holiness such an act would bring him (he later rethought the validity of that). It really shocked me that seemingly inherently good people would consider something that seems so horrible, just because they are taught that it is right. It makes me want to be more understanding and compassionate for these people we call terrorists and fanatics and evil people. Would we be any different if we were taught as they were?
REFUGEES: COME RIGHT IN vs. STAY AWAY
What really struck me was how horrible it was and still is in Pakistan. The bombings, the death, the murders, the rape, the corruption and chaos in the government and community. I can’t imagine how anyone could ever feel safe there. If I lived there, I thought, I would pray to come to North America. I can see why refugees want to leave. And yet, many don’t. Even with all the horror and carnage and chaos and lack of safety, these places are still their homes. They don’t want to leave to a foreign and unfamiliar place. Yet, oftentimes, they are forced to leave. It gave me greater compassion for refugees and immigrants. If they are capable and willing to work and cooperate with new laws and lands, shouldn’t they be able to come to North America? We have so much space, why shouldn’t they be able to come to a place that is free and safe, so long as they pay taxes and follow the laws?
And yet, I can see why people here don’t want refugees and immigrants to come. As I listened to Malala’s story, I felt an overwhelming gratitude to live in North America, with a whole ocean between my family and the Middle East. Even if I lived in the first-world countries of Europe, I would feel nervous having the Middle East so close. It scares me to think that such lawlessness and misguided thinking exists today. And, I am grateful I live far away from it! And I think, don’t bring them here! We don’t want that here! We have a Garden of Eden, a place of amazing peace and safety. Don’t take the chance of bringing these crazy fanatics here to pollute it!
Of course, most Middle Eastern people are not crazy killers. I know that. Most are just like us. But, there is some twisted teaching there – the twisting of the teachings of Islam. And, people in the Middle East seem to have been brought up disliking America, even hating them. And I can see why. America has meddled and manipulated many nations for their own gain. Of course, the Middle East doesn’t have a monopoly on twisted minds and evil deeds. North America has her fair-share of messed up people too. So, what leads to the serious chaos and terror that exists in these countries? Perhaps it isn’t Islamic religion that makes it that way. Perhaps it is their system of government. Perhaps it is the poverty, the natural disasters, or thousands of years of complicated religious and racial tension. Who knows . . . I just can see why people are afraid of the problems we see there coming to the comparative Eden that is North America.
So, on that end, I think it’s right that America carefully consider who they allow into the country. It is every country’s right and responsibility to defend its borders from threats. We should be protecting our land from terror and violence. But, North America IS immigrants. It was founded on the shoulders of immigrants from all over the world – Europe and Africa and Asia and Russia, and all over. Why should the bounteous blessings of “the promised land” be denied to those who have no home left to go back to, who would be a strength and a blessing to this country? Yes, there would be a risk of allowing some bad eggs in, but that is the risk of every child born in America. Most American babies grow up to be normal, law-abiding citizens, while a few go down bad paths. And yet, it seems to me that many refugees would prefer being in a safe place more like their original home, in culture and locale – if there is a place available. America is the superpower of the world and has set itself up to be the world’s caretaker. But, it shouldn’t be that way. America doesn’t have to take in everyone, nor does it have to solve all the world’s problems.
So, America shouldn’t be the world’s caretaker. But, we are a people of incredible peace and prosperity. As such, we should have compassion for those born in less favourable circumstances.
If I were a refugee, I would want someone to care.