Recent reports that thousands of Afghan refugees were not receiving enough food and clothing were disturbing. Our treatment of these refugees is an indictment of our culture.
There is a long international tradition of helping refugees in need. In ancient Greek culture, the concept of welcoming foreigners was called xenia. In Greek myth, the gods sometimes disguise themselves as impoverished strangers to test this virtue.
The Judeo-Christian tradition also has a strong tradition of helping foreigners in need. Many biblical passages are relevant, but Matthew 25:35 is particularly clear: “For I was hungry and you gave me to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me. “
At the moment, public opinion is on the side of the Afghan refugees. But a stubborn xenophobic minority wants to use these refugees as political pawns in their larger war against all immigrants. The politics of anger and resentment must be eclipsed by what Abraham Lincoln called the “angels of our best nature.”
We must welcome these refugees into our hearts and our communities.
A look back at Phil Hands’ editorial cartoons