This rusting, listing and smoldering island of derelicts in the Montevideo, Uruguay harbor was a visual blight in a beautiful place. From what I have learned they were abandoned by their owners who either would not or could not pay fees and taxes. The once proud ships were left to rot and foul the harbor. Their crews were abandoned to unemployment. Money was the supreme value.
As a child I was told the story of the walls of Jericho which came tumbling down because of the power of God through the blowing of the rams’ horns for seven days. A victory won without weapons. How marvelous! But that was only part of the story. I was not told of the directive to destroy all the people and animals (except Rahab’s family) after entering the city. They were, however, to keep the gold. The victors justified this behavior by calling it God’s will.
Today, millions of people – men, women and children – are walking, floating, riding, flying – using any form of transport to escape war, sectarian violence and economic collapse. Galvanized by the picture of one toddler dead on a Turkish beach, the world speaks of compassion. But in the next breath, places bureaucratic obstacles in the way of helping. We justify it in the name of security. We are afraid of their differences.
Being open, welcoming, working with, and accepting bewildered, courageous and determined people costs time, energy and yes, money. It requires choosing our priorities.
Will we abandon these people to become derelict islands of despair where hatred breeds hatred? Will we decide money and power are more important than people and condemn more to death? Or, will we choose compassion and our power of reason to share in their resettlement while also working to find ways to end the wars, economic failures which caused the problem?