Saturday, June 30, 2018

A Case for Resettling Refugees

Unstable governments, drug-trade financed gang violence, and religious fanaticism are only a few reasons humans have found to go to war. The combatants are not the only people who are affected since others live in the troubled areas as well. These innocent people often find themselves in untenable circumstances having few good alternatives. As they flee their home to gain safety elsewhere, they become refugees. Those who have the resources to help refugees do not offer aid due to security fears and worries about economic pressures, ignoring their ethical responsibilities to help those in need. It is unethical to refuse to help refugees from war-torn countries because assisting refugees strengthens national security, these displaced people help improve local economies, and, most importantly, it is a humanitarian responsibility.
Groups fighting against resettling refugees primarily argue that the exiles are a security threat; however, when the United States accepts refugees from war-torn countries, the world is a safer place. As the United States provides assistance, stress on resources in other nations is reduced. This helps to ensure ongoing support for the displaced people by multiple nations. Additionally, getting into the United States as a refugee is arduous. Each refugee is selected through intense screening by the Department of Homeland Security. It is an exhaustive process that lasts up to three years. If there is any doubt, a person will not be admitted into the country. As the United States admits good people from war-torn countries, national security is improved because stress in other countries is reduced and only good people are admitted into the nation.
Beside security concerns, detractors also suggest the economy could not withstand the added stress caused by helping refugees; however, since only good, well-vetted people are given refuge in the United States, they are an educated, talented, and industrious community. As entrepreneurs, consumers and taxpayers, refugees contribute to economic growth and create jobs. The International Rescue committee reports that refugees are nearly 50 percent more entrepreneurial than people who are born in the U.S. (Why should America take in more refugees?). Additionally, the refugee system is set up to help them quickly become independent. These factors help support a community that creates jobs with higher pay than would exist, otherwise. Refugees help improve the economies where they resettle because they become self-sufficient quickly, and they contribute to their communities.
Although national security and economic fears remain the primary arguments against aiding refugees, many believe others will help if they ignore the troubles in distant lands. Nonetheless, helping refugees is a humanitarian responsibility everyone shares. In 1951, the United Nations refugee convention established protections for refugees from being returned to countries where they risk being persecuted. Since life preservation and basic human dignity is easily assured when good people are allowed to live in a secure atmosphere and provided the opportunity to work toward self-reliance, fulfilling this responsibility is easy. As refugees escape the dangers of living in war-ravaged, life-threatening environments, those who help them meet the responsibility to minister to the needs of the afflicted. What is better than saving another’s life? What greater responsibility is there than to help preserve humanity? Through helping resettle refugees, humanitarian responsibility is fulfilled like a modern-day good Samaritan. Humanitarian responsibility is the greatest reason to support the displaced and needy who are fleeing danger.
As humanitarian responsibility is fulfilled, economic growth is improved, and national security is preserved, people become the top priority, and countries accept the ethical obligation to help refugees. When this undertaking is shared by many nations, national and world security is improved. As refugees settle in new communities, they help strengthen and grow the economy. Each person holds a basic responsibility to minister to his neighbor’s needs, and as the needs of the refugee are met, this responsibility is fulfilled. Helping refugees from war-torn countries is the ethical responsibility of citizens of all nations.

(Republished from an essay written for ENG 106-1079 at BYU-I)

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Go, Ponder On These Things

“Therefore, go ye unto your homes, and ponder upon the things which I have said, and ask of the Father, in my name, that ye may understand, and prepare your minds for the morrow, and I come unto you again.” (3 Nephi 17:3)

The things we read or study in the scriptures aren’t going to just sink into our souls by accident. We must ponder on these treasures and pray about them, seeking for the blessing of personal revelation to teach us that we will fully understand what it is that our Heavenly Father wants for us.

Years ago, I knew a man who had given up every comfort in his life so he could devote his time to reading the bible. He sold his house and left his family and friends. He packed everything he felt he needed to survive his chosen lifestyle into a van and moved into a campground by a river. He spent every spare moment of his life reading the bible. He, however, never uttered a single word in prayer. He knew the bible both the old and new testament like no one else I have ever met. However, it was a knowledge devoid of spirituality or even understanding. I often asked him if he had found what he was looking for. Invariably, his answer would be, “not yet”.

I have wondered about him from time to time since then. I have also considered how much more there is to the words found in holy scripture or those delivered to us by modern servants of God than what we may gain through our own efforts and power. Even in a classroom setting, we will never find such great promise if we but rely only on the power and knowledge of man. The fullness of the gospel can only be obtained through the power of God. Only by seeking after it will we “be visited with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and shall receive a remission of [our] sins.” (3 Nephi 12:2)

I do not want to be like this man who lived in a van down by the river.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Humility - the foundation of spiritual strength

“And now, as I said unto you, that because ye were compelled to be humble ye were blessed, do ye not suppose that they are more blessed who truly humble themselves because of the word?” (Alma 32:14)

Since humility is the only foundation of spiritual strength, we are blessed when we successfully humble ourselves and prepare to receive the blessings of faith from our Heavenly Father.

I have lived through times when my pride or fear have interfered with my ability to embrace some aspects of the gospel. Conversely, I have experienced significant growth when I have been able to humble myself and submit to the will of our Heavenly Father. Although I have struggled too often, I do recognize the Lord’s guidance and blessings in my life when I successfully bend my will to His.

This morning, we experienced a weather event that first gave us freezing rain. The rain was then followed by snow. The combination of which proved incredibly slippery both on sidewalks and roads. As I drove to my office, I found myself driving down a slight decline toward an intersection. The slick environment overwhelmed the skills of many who would drive through. I watched as many cars slid into each other, some were spinning on the ice. I worked as best I could to drive slowly around the situation. Each time I touched my brakes or downshifted my tires would lose traction. It was difficult to maintain control. Just as I thought I was sure to get through the mess without personal incident, a small car sped up behind me. I panicked a little and touched my brakes trying to maneuver out of the way. Sliding, I was certain I would drift into the path of the speeding car. I am certain I was blessed as he slid past me without making contact with me nor did he bounce off the curb back at me. It seemed he was a hair’s width from making contact.

As this played out before me, a thought impressed itself on my consciousness - I was being blessed for paying my tithes and other offerings. How often do we really know why or when our blessings are bestowed on us? If I had not humbled myself and submitted to the Lord’s will, I would have been involved in an accident that would have surely caused major financial hardship and possibly bodily injury.