State of (In)Security

I’ve been silent for a while because we were in Cambodia for three weeks and I’ve spent another three trying to dig my way out of 4000+ pictures (cameras can be both a blessing and a curse).

While we were there, we spent a day with the team from our church at Kam-Air, Cambodia’s first and only wakeboard park, founded by one of our kids and run by Alf and my son-in-law, John.

The park has “acquired” its own dog (acquired as in the dog showed up and stayed). He’s a medium-sized dog that has been christened Goliath. He looks vaguely shephard’ish to me, and he loves John. He does all the things a dog will do when he loves you (and often even if he doesn’t) — he runs up when John gets to the park, follows John around walking under his hand hoping for a random stroke, and so on.

As is often true with dogs, Goliath’s devotion also extends to protection. Goliath is intent on protecting John from any kind of danger. The problem is that danger in Dog world is wildly out of alignment with danger here in the Real world. In Goliath’s case, this means that he starts barking like crazy every time John starts getting dressed to go out on the water (vest, bindings, etc.). Goliath just knows that whatever John is doing is going to lead to severe bodily harm, and he lets John and everyone else in a 100-yard radius know that he (Goliath) is not happy about this.

If John is foolish enough to ignore Goliath’s warnings, and get on the cable anyway, then Goliath feels he has no choice but to dive in and save John from his imminent death and/or dismemberment. It makes no difference to Goliath that he can barely keep his head above water, much less keep up with John on the cable, much less be able to do something even if he did happen to find himself in the same spot of water as John. When he can get his head far enough out of the water, he continues to bark at John and let him know just how much trouble he’s in for ignoring Goliath’s very clear and proper warnings.

Goliath is very well-intentioned. He has a great heart, he loves John, and he wants to protect him. He just can’t discern between perceived danger and real danger very well, he doesn’t have a very good plan for protecting even if it was real danger (which it isn’t), and he actually causes more problems than he solves because John has to dodge him when he gets in the cable lane.

The transition for this post was going to be to parents who exhibit all the same problems with their kids, and I may still write that post someday. But in the interim, Paris happened. And Twitter and Facebook, predictably, melted down.

I don’t spend much time on FB anymore — seeing the same 20 memes from 300 people really isn’t that interesting, and I have serious issues with their all-out attack on privacy — but I have those ten kids we keep talking about all over the world, and it’s the easiest (probably not the best) way to keep up what’s happening with all of them. But what time I have been on it the last week or two, it’s been intensely disheartening to see the responses to the Paris attacks. Blatantly racist comments, calls for stopping intake of Syrian refugees, or worse, closing the borders completely, and a wide swath of opinions masquerading as facts. (As a reminder, a FB feed, unlike Twitter, is populated with people you know, are acquainted with, are friends with, are related to.)

What’s on display are the same things I described about Goliath three paragraphs above.

None of the Paris attackers were Syrian refugees. They weren’t any kind of refugees — they were all EU citizens. Responding by stopping Syrian refugees, or closing the borders, is akin to finding out you have a opossum in your yard and putting out a tiger trap. Sure, you might catch a tiger, if one happens across your neighborhood, but one, the chance is infinitesimally small, and two, even if you do it won’t help your opossum problem at all.

Further, closing the borders to Syrian refugees is condemning many of them to death. They are refugees because ISIL (or DAESH if you prefer) is trying to kill them, or because they’ve fled their homes to prevent ISIL from killing them, or because ISIL has thrown them out of their homes. We closed our borders to a people being annihilated once upon a time. Anyone remember how that turned out?

A fact that has been proven over and over and over again, for literally thousands of years, is that Fear is a terrible decision maker. He makes up facts, yells “La la la la la la la la la” when presented with real facts, and acts out of raw emotion with all logic and reasonableness thrown to the wind. It’s OK to allow Fear to inform a decision, but he should never be the one allowed to make them.

(And, for the record, this is nowhere more true than in my own life. When I’ve allowed Fear to take over the decision making, and that’s happened far too often, I’ve always, 100% of the time, ended up in a ditch. Or worse.)

The Good News is that there’s an alternative. It so happens that Perfect Love casts out fear1, and it further happens that Perfect Love has a name (Jesus), is present in many of us and available to the rest, and is a wonderful decision maker. They aren’t the decisions Fear would make, but they’re the right ones. The ultimate one, of course, is that He gave His own Perfect life in order to rescue my (and your) worthless one.

How did He tell us to live? He told us that risking bodily harm, or death, was worth helping a despised stranger.2 He told us that trying to hold onto our life was foolishness.3 And He told us not to fear those that can kill us, but only the One who could destroy our soul.4

Our reaction to real danger to others right now and possible, maybe someday in the distant future, danger to ourselves should always to be help those in real danger now. There are lots of ways to help those in real danger now, but one of them is to get them away from that danger, and that means taking them in. Now, if we also want to go where the real danger is and kick butt and take names, I’m all for that, too. But locking our doors and pulling a blanket over our heads and abandoning those in real danger will not only not protect us, but it harms them.

We need to remember that in the choice between Goliath and David (and his Son), history has already shown us which one has the better plan.

  1. 1 John 4:18.
  2. Luke 10:30-37.
  3. Luke 17:33.
  4. Luke 12:4-5.

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