A few words on the refugee crisis from my Polish, catholic perspective

This is not what I ever intended to write about on this blog, but I just cannot help myself, seeing what is going on, but most of all seeing the types of comments that some people make on the net.

I dedicate this post to all my fellow Poles, to all my fellow Eastern Europeans, to all my fellow christians, and to people who, like me, according to European standards, would generally be placed under the label of ‘conservative’ or ‘right wing’.

Would anyone like to make a claim against accepting the refugees in the current situation, or a claim supporting the politics of Orban, “because those people are muslim” or “because we cannot afford it”, and try to justify this claim with christian or traditional values, I have one response: You gotta be fucking kiddin’ me.

Let me start by reminding when, in Polish public discourse, we usually use the expression ‘not to help’.

A month ago we commemorated 71st anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising. Lyrics of the Uprising by Sabaton: “1939 and the allies turned away // 1944 help that never came” well summarise the feelings most of the Poles have about the France’s and Britain’s attitude towards us during the 2nd World War. “We had a mutual help agreement, we would have helped them, while they ignored us during 1939 Nazi invasion and refused the help the City in the 1944 Uprising“. 3 millions of people died, including all the intelligentsia (what we can ‘feel’ until nowadays), Warsaw was completely destroyed. We are upset with French and British not helping us. And rightly so.

Not only demons of the past, however, fill Polish minds with skeptical feelings in these days. Russia’s activities in Georgia and Ukraine make the prospect of Putin invading Eastern flanks of EU and NATO much more probable than we thought not that long ago. The closer you are to Ukraine, the feeling is stronger, believe me. However absurd it might feel when you’re sitting in France or Italy. Our new President, Andrzej Duda, vocally makes a claim for installing of American and NATO bases in Poland. To my mind, again, rightly so. Whether you agree or no is of lesser importance here. The point I’m making is: we are afraid that, despite international agreements, they will not help us when we need that help.

And hey, guess what: right now Poland, and Hungary, and many other Eastern countries are not helping people that desperately need help. We are no better than 1939 France. We have to help them, and yet we don’t even try to do half of what we could.

Aha!” – a 2nd year right-wing-law-student will shout – “Got you here! Because we don’t have to help them! France and UK had an international agreement with us, but we have no agreement with Syrian people!“. Bravo. Beautiful, positivistic, materialistic, relativist claim you’re making. You have a right to it, just that usually you seem to attack these positions.

Have you ever heard of God’s Law? Have you ever heard of natural law? Have you ever heard about Jesus saying LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR? Do you remember the last time mentioned that God’s Law is above any positive man-made law? When was it, ah, yesterday?

Every Christian has got an obligation to love others, to give food to the hungry, to give drink to the thirsty, to welcome the stranger, to clothe the naked, to take care of the sick and to visit those in jail. Well, now we have an opportunity. Do you remember how the Judgement will look like? Jesus will separate those who did all these to Him from those who didn’t. Whenever you did it for any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did it for me. Read Mt 25:31-46.

And every human being has a right to live. Which we have an obligation to defend. We must protect human life! Remember the last time you said that?

By not doing whatever we can to help the refugees, we are not only being selfish, greedy, comfort-loving bastards. We are breaking the law. God’s law. The one so often used to justify political claims, btw. Now we’re braking it. We should fear hell.

But those people are not Christian! They might be terrorists, and they will not fit into our society, they will cause social conflicts, because their culture is not based on Christian values, while that is the fundament the Europe is built on! When we let this values die, Europe will die“.

By not helping the refugees, by letting them die in Syria or tracks on our roads or drown in the Mediterranean, by bitting them up on boarders, we, the Europeans, are compromising Christian values right nowWe are destroying the very foundation on which European culture was built. We. Now. Not them, one day.

And to say ‘let us accept only the Christians, keep the Muslims out’ might be the most unchristian thing I have ever heard.

But there is data! Look at France, at Netherlands, the problems they have! Plus: I’m sure there are ISIS agents among those people. And we cannot afford it, we are poor ourselves“. You know what? You’re right! That’s true! And it does not matter at all, it changes nothing about our obligation to help them.

Sure, in 99% white, homogenous, (post)catholic Poland, there might be social clashes when people from different cultures arrive. They will need to learn and we will need to learn. And it will cost the taxpayers’ money. And yeah, maybe there are even some ISIS agents hidden among the thousands that come. Maybe there will be an attack by one of the thousands we now help. We need to admit such a possibility and be prepared. There is definitely a cost to pay, financial, social, and in security. And we MUST pay it.

Jesus never said ‘Feed, clothe, welcome UNLESS your standard of living will decline, unless your personal security might be endangered’. He said: LOVE! And He gave us the ultimate expression of His perfect love, remember how? By dying. And we use the potential prospect of maybe dying in a maybe-one-day-to-occur-attack as an argument against saving people’s lives right now?!

But we are not Jesuses!’. Well, before He died, he said: The greatest way to show love for friends is to die for them (J15:13). (I can really keep going with the citations, you know that, and so can you, btw). You wear a symbol of Him dying on your neck. And you fight for your right to put this symbol on your school’s wall. Rightly so, I believe. Now let us try live up to it.

And one more thing: remember the last time we talked about human rights being just secularised christian ethics and the danger that once we ‘cut the root off’, when Europe become completely secular, the whole project will stay for a few generations, but then might collapse, since if no one believes in natural law, and human rights are just a positive law that might be changed, future generations will choose to change it? Well, guess what.

I started with not helping, let me finish with helping. For dates of 1939, 1944, 1945, 1946, 1949, 1956, 1968, 1981, apart from  tragic events, are also the years when we did receive enormous help. When thousands of people, who were at that time refugees, found shelter. Now it’s our turn.

People of Europe have a moral obligation to accept the refugees and to do whatever they can to help them. Sure, there will be a cost of that. This cost might be high. And we just have to pay it. There is the important reason, and that, apart from just being a decent human being that can look oneself in the eyes without dying of shame, is the the God’s Law. If one feels Christian, there’s no other option. Or even if one does not, but wants to ‘defend the European values’, there is no other way. History will judge us justly, maybe. But God will for sure. 

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