Rethinking Refugees

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I have just had a vivid dream. And not being one who dreams a lot, I thought it was worth sharing.

I was at an outdoor venue listening to my daughter (@melodyjoyg) speak about Australia’s current treatment of refugees. Melody always speaks with passion and warmth, and this time was no exception. Except that I can’t remember anything she said. Toward the end, though, she said “I’ll now show you how we should welcome those who have risked all to come here…”

She asked us to close our eyes, and when we opened them Melody had transformed herself into a Old English Sheepdog puppy. I know. That’s pretty crazy. But think about it: what do you do with an old English Sheepdog Puppy? You walk up and pat it, cuddle it, play with it. You love a puppy like that, and you want to take it home, and make it part of your family.

So, how does all that work when we’re thinking about refugees?

Well, we all know that there are good processes to determine the bona fides of those seeking to be recognised as refugees, and we know Australia needs to guard her borders.

We should also know that over 90% of those who come to Australia in boats are eventually recognised as refugees. That is, nearly all have a valid case!

While not neglecting due process and assessment, my dream is that we can love and receive refugees warmly and openly and lovingly. As Australians, we need to learn how to ‘take them home and make them part of our family’. Like how we are drawn to embrace a puppy. We want to give them a home so we can care for them and provide shelter and safety. It may sound childish, and it probably should. Then again, children tell us a lot about how to treat people in need.

Yesterday I heard one voice that breathed a little light into the refugee question. Foreign Minister designate Bob Carr, almost as an aside in his press conference with the Prime Minister, said he was passionate about the plight of refugees. That’s what we need here: the language of heart, instead of the fear driven three word slogans of ‘Stop The Boats’.

Truth be known: Melody doesn’t work with refugees, although in her position with Compassion Australia, she has a great opportunity to bring the plight of the broken and the needy into our lives.

And really, I still think the whole sheepdog puppy thing is a little weird. But I know this: refugees need safety and care. They need love and friendship. They need to know there is a place where they can live without fear, where the nightmares can be stilled, and where they can breathe again.

Australia, we can do this.

Q: what are your thoughts about how we treat refugees?

Next: one inspiring example of how this has been done

2 thoughts on “Rethinking Refugees

  1. G’day David, remind me not to ask about your dreams in future! However, I must admit that the plight of refuges in Australia is something that has disturbed for a while. My biggest concern is how long it takes to process a refuge, they hang in limbo for years, which I think is unjust. I’m not sure if we can lobby our government as a church, but changing our refuge policy would be a great cause for just in our land. Thanks for your post. God bless. Pastor Josh

  2. Hi DAvid

    Thanks for that post. It was very timely. I believe we live in a culture that values it’s pets over people. So much is made of pets (and I have nothing against them). It causes me to wonder why that happens and the only conclusion I can come to is that pets always give. As long as they are fed and given some attention they expect litle else where as people require so much more. I was at a function recently where two couples each had 4 dogs they adored, preened and talked endlessly about. The same people spoke of lining up refugees (or boat people) and shooting them. I must say I just found that context really hard both to handle and to respond to. We, as Christians surely must see refugees as people God’s desires for relationship with Him. If that’s the case then who are we to resist them coming to this country. Australia’s processes and policy leave much to be desired but I love the way you finish. May we be a people of welcome..Reina

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