Below is a letter I emailed (in two parts due to the 2,500 character limit on the site) to President Trump this morning. Regardless of your political persuasion, how might we take reasonable steps to assist the Syrian people? I know people out there are caring and creative. There has to be lots of ways to solve this problem through things other than bombs.
I am terrified for our country because of the actions you have taken as our President.
Although I have a long list of concerns about the changes your administration is making, I will focus my attention today on Syria, the airstrikes you launched yesterday and your attempted ban on Syrian (and other countries’) refugees. Though I agree that the violence perpetrated against Syrian civilians by their own leaders is unconscionable, more violence is not the way to handle it. Though I admit that I do not completely understand the subtleties of relations involving Syria, Russia, and other Middle Eastern countries and the U.S., I am convinced that answering violence with more violence is not the answer. Launching bombs, even on a strictly military target, without international backing is a scary and dangerous road to walk down. Now, where with the escalation of this conflict stop? How far will we get involved into wars that have generations of lasting impact? Will we be a ‘lone ranger’ stepping into conflicts all over the world where we feel we have moral justification? That is a very long list of countries and conflicts. Can we handle them all? Is it our place to handle them all?
Moreover, I am appalled that you would decry the actions of the Syrian government when you have illegally attempted twice to ban all refugees entering the country from Syria and other Muslim-majority countries. I’m deeply grateful that our judicial system is checking that executive order; however, I think the best way to give the U.S. the moral standing on which to make judgements against the Syrian regime is to offer a compassionate home to those who are brutalized by this war. To fail to do so will simply create more and more of the terrorists (who understandably hate the U.S.) who we seek to prevent from hurting people in the U.S. and all over the world.
I am an ordained clergy person in the United Church of Christ. Along with our sister denomination, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), we have a robust program for integrating refugees (including Syrians) into this country. We do this because over and over again in scripture, God commands us to care for the widow, the orphan, the poor and the imprisoned. This isn’t an optional part of being Christian. Radical hospitality, especially to the stranger who must flee the danger of his/her country, is what we MUST do to create the heaven on earth that Jesus described and modeled for us. We will most certainly work with you to settle larger numbers of refugees created by this war.
As a person who claims to love America, to live Christian values and who hates violence against innocents, I implore you to reconsider your extreme pro-military stance and consider other options. I especially beg of you to begin to find ways to welcome even more refugees in this country. The actions you and our military have taken will undoubtedly create even more people who need to flee this country and its war.
Rev. Nicole M. Havelka