Out­rage and the ab­sence of hu­man­ity

Kim Rig­gins lives in Smyrna with her two in­cred­i­bly spoiled dogs and an un­healthy ob­ses­sion with Star Wars.

GA Voice - - Outspoken - By Kim Rig­gins

I had my col­umn all typed up, and I was proud of it. My first col­umn! It was ex­actly what I wanted to say and I even man­aged to throw in some clever al­lit­er­a­tion. I had it fin­ished al­most an en­tire month be­fore the dead­line, so I had plenty of time to fuss over it and change words, you know, pol­ish it up and make it all shiny.

Then, 132 peo­ple died in Paris. When I read my piece one last time be­fore email­ing it off, it seemed drab to me. Ir­rel­e­vant. It felt triv­ial even though it dealt with an im­por­tant is­sue.

I re­mem­ber how I felt on 9/11. The news knocked the breath out of me, and for a mo­ment, my body for­got how to breathe. When it fi­nally came back to me, all I could do was sob, ly­ing on my of­fice floor. Who would do such a thing? Why? I couldn’t be­lieve it. We were, for

Novem­ber 27, 2015

the first time in a long time, a na­tion uni­fied, but uni­fied in grief. We know the shock. We re­mem­ber the pain. We felt it again this week­end. We stand, em­pa­thetic, along­side France.

Now, imag­ine feel­ing that way ev­ery day. Imag­ine your fam­ily, your chil­dren, ev­ery­one that you love liv­ing with that pain and fear ev­ery day. Wouldn’t we do ev­ery­thing in our power, risk life and limb, to es­cape it?

In the wake of this tragedy, we have an op­por­tu­nity to let love win. Again. We have never al­lowed fear to stop us in the past. Now is not the time to start. Our gov­er­nor has “closed the bor­ders” to refugees des­per­ate for shel­ter (as though he has the author­ity to do that, but that’s a dif­fer­ent is­sue). Mo­ments like th­ese are the tests of our true selves. They mea­sure us, tak­ing the depth and weight of our char­ac­ter. What­ever they find, be it ex­cep­tional or lack­ing, will be stamped in time. Our grand­chil­dren’s chil­dren will look back on this mo­ment ei­ther with pride or with shame.

In a few weeks, we will be­gin dec­o­rat­ing for the hol­i­day sea­son: the most won­der­ful time of the year. Peace on Earth, good­will to all men. For those who cel­e­brate Christ­mas, it will be time to put up the na­tiv­ity scenes. Churches every­where will be stag­ing plays cel­e­brat­ing the story of Christ’s birth, which starts with a Mid­dle East­ern couple seek­ing shel­ter only to be turned away at ev­ery door. To those of us who call our­selves Chris­tians, there is no jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for such an ab­sence of com­pas­sion. No de­fense for such hypocrisy. Th­ese are not just a group of des­per­ate refugees. They are our neigh­bors. Do we truly be­lieve what Je­sus taught? If so, is our faith more im­por­tant than our fear? We wig­gle and worm our way around so many other is­sues, jus­ti­fy­ing our lit­tle prej­u­dices and vices. Not this one. Ei­ther you fol­low what Christ taught or you do not. There is no gray area. Not for those of us who call our­selves Chris­tians. Any­one won­der­ing what Je­sus’ fi­nal word on the mat­ter is can find it at the end of the parable of the Good Sa­mar­i­tan.

“Je­sus told him, ‘Go and do like­wise.’” That’s it. No ex­cuses. No ex­cep­tions. Go. Love your neigh­bor. “What­ever you did for the least of th­ese ... you did for me.”

Fear can­not rule us be­cause we are not cow­ards. We have al­ways loved de­fi­antly be­cause we know that love con­quers hate. It also con­quers fear. Terror can­not crush it. So, let’s love de­fi­antly.

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