Like, I suspect, many of you, I listen to NPR news on the way to work every morning. For the past few months, each day’s news seems to be bookended by stories about violence in the Middle East and the immigrant crisis in Europe. The two stories are linked, though I am surprised at how rarely that connection is made.
News was reported last week that 71 migrants were discovered dead in the back of a refrigerator truck in Austria. There is a story almost every day about a capsized boat, and women, children, and men drowning as they tried to make the crossing to Europe. People inside and outside of the European Union seem frantically impotent to address the issue, let alone mobilize a response.
Anger and resentment seem to be building. At the same time, there are remarkable stories of impoverished and unemployed people in places like Greece making extraordinary sacrifices to help those who are so desperate to flee their homelands that they are willing to risk their lives. In this country, we watch the crisis and shake our heads while we listen to some politicians advocate walling off our borders … in Christian love, of course.
What I hear absolutely no one saying is that the United States should be taking responsibility for at least some of these refugees who are flooding into Europe. We are, after all, the ones who invaded and destabilized the region, which is now aflame with endless war making life such a hell that people are willing to risk their lives to flee.
Many international economists suggest that even the African and Mexican immigrants who flee their nations are victims of American economic greed, which exploits poor nations by paying slave wages for the corporate profits and cheap prices of American companies and consumers.
My point I guess is simply this: As the most privileged people on earth, we cannot shrug off responsibility for the world’s pain because, all too often, our privileges are part of the root cause.
Rev. Michael Piazza