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'The world is too small now for an Us and a Them': Reflecting on World Refugee Day

“In our world today, 65 million people have been forcibly displaced from their homes, and 34,000 additional people are displaced every single day. The need to welcome refugees has never been greater. Now is the time to take a stand.”

Image: 'A refugee sleeps with her children on a ferry traveling from the northeastern Greek island of Lesbos to the Athens port of Piraeus, Sept. 9, 2015.' by Freedom House is licensed under CC BY 1.0

Religious communities enjoy a certain amount of status due to access to education and historical credibility. From that place of relative privilege we take stands on many issues. We speak out. We are generous with time and other resources. We have a great deal to add to public discourse.

A colleague tells me he would like to have more conversation about living a privileged life in a suffering world. We’ve talked about how hard it is to change flawed systems. I propose that temptations to despair and feeling overwhelmed are intertwined with recognition of today’s systemic inequality.

Technology has made it difficult to escape images of hunger, sickness, and the violence of war. Our hearts break as we learn about toddlers being washed off boats into the sea, and the desperation of refugees trying to find safety. We feel challenged as we realize that international borders, race, sexual orientation, gender and organized religion are too often used to divide human beings and increase polarization and fear. As more countries close their borders to desperate people and governments call for travel bans, one wonders what it means to be a human being in the 21st century. We join the greatest minds in history in the journey toward recognizing that we are one...


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Messages to: Kathleen Erickson rsm

Editor: Kathleen Erickson rsm (Americas) spent 18 years serving on the United States’ southern border with Mexico, helping to start a women’s center for immigrant women. She continues to work on social justice issues with the Sisters of Mercy and has a particular focus on immigration. Sr Kathleen has done spiritual counseling in a Federal Detention Center, a family detention center built for 2,400 women and their children, and now in a county jail.