• Regina Trailweaver

An Ethical Response to Refugees

No Yogi, no Christian, no person of religious conviction, moral value, or ethical code, can condone ethnic cleansing. Nor can a person of ethics stand by while an infrastructure is set up to suppress already oppressed people by violent, yet not quite illegal, means. I am speaking of the detention camps now operating on our southern borders and the system by which most of these refugees will be deported and many will die, some here while in custody, and many more when they are forcibly returned to their countries of origin.

I am amazed time and again by the cozy relationship between so called evangelical Christians and the right wing. These self proclaimed “true” Christians almost always believe in the Bible as the word of God and take it very literally. In the Old Testament, a jealous, angry, and wrathful God does order the Israelites to kill every man, woman, and child of Canaan in order to procure the “Promised Land.” I imagine this is the God that these Christians bow to as they defend the current administration’s treatment of desperate men, women, and children seeking sanctuary in our “free” land. These same Christians have turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to the crucified one who admonished them to feed the hungry, welcome the stranger, take care of the sick, and visit the prisoner. These “true believers” seem completely ignorant of the reality that Christ himself is the poor, the hungry, the stranger, and the prisoner. I wish there would be a judgment day so I could see the looks on the faces of these right wing Christians when God tells them the truth.

We who believe in justice for all, feel that we are losing. Losing in and of itself is not the problem but without justice, there will be no peace. Instead there will be what we now observe and more of it: violence, injustice, and genocide. But there will also be the swing to the other side for every action has its equal and opposite reaction.

This is why the yogi fully and thoroughly examines the possible consequences of acting, pausing and waiting before making a choice that will inevitably initiate a ripple effect.

The yogi/ni considers the four yugas, the long ages, each one at least several thousand years long. They revolve in an eternal cosmological cycle. Satya Yuga is the golden age of highest truth and morality. Treta Yuga is the silver age when truth and morality are still primary but more base instincts and impulses begin to appear. Dvapara Yuga is the Bronze Age when truth and morality begin to decline and people begin to divide into religious and ethnic groups. Kali Yuga, the Iron Age, is when truth and morality are minimal principals in life. We might hope that we are now in the Kali Yuga but we also might fear that things can get much worse than they are right now. Humans have a long and bloodthirsty history of competing for resources rather than sharing them, participating in violent migratory patterns across the planet, and have been committing genocide against one group or another for all of recorded history. The yogin remembers that borders are constantly shifting and defending a border is a most dubious and possibly murderous undertaking.

Regardless of which age we are in, yogi/nis practice maintaining a radiant and loving presence for all. We do this by aiming for maitri (friendliness), karuna (compassion), mudita (delight), and Upeksa (disregard) in all of our social and emotional interactions. Maitri is not merely friendliness but also a feeling of oneness with the object of friendliness (atmiyata). A mother feels intense happiness at the success of her children because of atmiyata, a feeling of oneness. Karuna is similar in that it involves not pity but intense empathy. Compassion, however, is much more than an emotional experience. It acts on the feeling of empathy and does something to alleviate the pain. Mudita is the delight of taking correct action, of making a choice that accurately targets the problem. Upeksa is disregard for immoral, dishonest, and deceptive words and behaviors. There is no end of immoral words and behaviors emanating from the current administration. We can disregard these actions by not being complicit or supportive in any way, doing everything we can every day to defeat those who would commit human rights abuses in our name, and by aiding those whose human rights are being abused.

So, if you are truly a follower of Christ or a practicing yogin or simply someone who is moral and truthful, you know the ethical response to the migrants and immigrants seeking sanctuary and assistance in our land: Welcome them all. Of course there should be a process and all must be documented. One conservative commentator argued that “America is not a charity.” I agree but as the richest country in the world, supposedly Christian and committed to democracy and human rights, we can, and should, be charitable. Nor can a person of ethics stand by while an infrastructure is set up to suppress already oppressed people by violent, yet not quite illegal, means. I am speaking of the detention camps now operating on our southern borders and the system by which most of these refugees will be deported and many will die, some here while in custody, and many more when they are forcibly returned to their countries of origin.

I am amazed time and again by the cozy relationship between so called evangelical Christians and the right wing. These self proclaimed “true” Christians almost always believe in the Bible as the word of God and take it very literally. In the Old Testament, a jealous, angry, and wrathful God does order the Israelites to kill every man, woman, and child of Canaan in order to procure the “Promised Land.” I imagine this is the God that these Christians bow to as they defend the current administration’s treatment of desperate men, women, and children seeking sanctuary in our “free” land. These same Christians have turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to the crucified one who admonished them to feed the hungry, welcome the stranger, take care of the sick, and visit the prisoner. These “true believers” seem completely ignorant of the reality that Christ himself is the poor, the hungry, the stranger, and the prisoner. I wish there would be a judgment day so I could see the looks on the faces of these right wing Christians when God tells them the truth.

We who believe in justice for all, feel that we are losing. Losing in and of itself is not the problem but without justice, there will be no peace. Instead there will be what we now observe and more of it: violence, injustice, and genocide. But there will also be the swing to the other side for every action has its equal and opposite reaction.

This is why the yogi fully and thoroughly examines the possible consequences of acting, pausing and waiting before making a choice that will inevitably initiate a ripple effect.

The yogi/ni considers the four yugas, the long ages, each one at least several thousand years long. They revolve in an eternal cosmological cycle. Satya Yuga is the golden age of highest truth and morality. Treta Yuga is the silver age when truth and morality are still primary but more base instincts and impulses begin to appear. Dvapara Yuga is the Bronze Age when truth and morality begin to decline and people begin to divide into religious and ethnic groups. Kali Yuga, the Iron Age, is when truth and morality are minimal principals in life. We might hope that we are now in the Kali Yuga but we also might fear that things can get much worse than they are right now. Humans have a long and bloodthirsty history of competing for resources rather than sharing them, participating in violent migratory patterns across the planet, and have been committing genocide against one group or another for all of recorded history. The yogin remembers that borders are constantly shifting and defending a border is a most dubious and possibly murderous undertaking.

Regardless of which age we are in, yogi/nis practice maintaining a radiant and loving presence for all. We do this by aiming for maitri (friendliness), karuna (compassion), mudita (delight), and Upeksa (disregard) in all of our social and emotional interactions. Maitri is not merely friendliness but also a feeling of oneness with the object of friendliness (atmiyata). A mother feels intense happiness at the success of her children because of atmiyata, a feeling of oneness. Karuna is similar in that it involves not pity but intense empathy. Compassion, however, is much more than an emotional experience. It acts on the feeling of empathy and does something to alleviate the pain. Mudita is the delight of taking correct action, of making a choice that accurately targets the problem. Upeksa is disregard for immoral, dishonest, and deceptive words and behaviors. There is no end of immoral words and behaviors emanating from the current administration. We can disregard these actions by not being complicit or supportive in any way, doing everything we can every day to defeat those who would commit human rights abuses in our name, and by aiding those whose human rights are being abused.

So, if you are truly a follower of Christ or a practicing yogin or someone who is simply moral and truthful, you know the ethical response to the migrants and immigrants seeking sanctuary and assistance in our land: Welcome them all. Of course there should be a process and all must be documented. One conservative commentator argued that “America is not a charity.” I agree but as the richest country in the world, supposedly Christian and committed to democracy and human rights, we can, and should, be charitable.

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