Liberty Yell: I Was a Stranger and You Invited Me In

By Matthew Sperling on Sep 06, 2015 at 08:38 PM in Featured Essays


And now our humanity will be tested.

Millions of refugees have fled from Syria. Many more people have, sensibly, left their homes in the Middle East, Africa and around the world rather than die from hunger, disease and violence.

No country owns the world. All of us have a moral and practical obligation to share the bounty of this planet. All of us have a responsibility to protect not only people but the entire living system which preserves the content and spirit of existence.

On behalf of our belief in justice and freedom, we have used violence to batter violence. There are not many just wars, but America can say it fought such battles in its Revolution, its Civil War and in World War Two. Yet, we have, in recent years, frequently mishandled our military and diplomatic power. While evil was apparent in countries such as Syria, Egypt, Bahrain, Iraq, Yemen, and Afghanistan, we time and again made the wrong moves.

Now the results of our policies, and the policies of many other supposedly democratic countries, have led to the only place it was ever going to lead: Millions of people have sought what we take for granted. Millions are seeking new homes where they will be able to live in peace. They want a roof over their heads, clothing, food, health care, schools, work, and all the aspects of a decent and meaningful life.

The Germans are, at this moment, leading the way. Their generosity shows the changes in their country seventy years beyond the war in which cattle cars were used for such nefarious purposes. Today’s Germans are offering transportation to a world of greater hope for an estimated 800,000 refugees in 2015. Germany has 80 million citizens, so they have declared space for an additional one percent. Apply the German one-percent rule, and here are some examples of what other countries would take in--

              Current Pop.    Room for Refugees

Argentina     40 M       400,000    
Austria         8 M         80,000
Australia       23 M       230,000
Brazil           191 M      1,910,000
Canada        35 M        350,000
China          1.3 B        13,000,000
France         66 M        660,000
Hungary      10 M        100,000
India           1.2 B        12,000,000
Italy            61 M        610,000
Russia         143 M       1,430,000
Mexico        112 M       1,120,000
Spain          46 M        460,000
Sweden       10 M        100,000
Switzerland   8 M        80,000
U.K.             65 M       650,000
U.S.A.        320 M       3,200,000

Using the above 17 countries--making up roughly half of the world's human population of seven billion--there is room for at least 35 million refugees.

Where is, at last, the line in the sand? Where and when do we protect each other--humans saving humans--and where and when do we save not only ourselves but the rest of this planet which was, once, a Garden of Eden?

As reported by the New York Times on Sept. 1, 2015,  more than 13,000 Icelanders have started a group, “Syria is Calling.” Their Facebook page frames their ideology this way--

Refugees are our future spouses, best friends, our next soul mate, the drummer in our children’s band, our next colleague, Miss Iceland 2022, the carpenter who finally fixes our bathroom, the chef in the cafeteria, the fireman, the hacker and the television host. People who we’ll never be able to say to: ‘Your life is worth less than mine.’

“Open the gates.”

Iceland has a population of 320,000.