The Boy In The Red Shirt

The beach is so serene, soft light, almost dim. The waves massaging the sand, and he’s laying there, so quiet. So quiet. His red shirt wet, the soles of his shoes almost as red as his shirt. It’s then that you notice he’s not sleeping…or breathing. He’s dead.

This image of this  unnamed little boy has circulated timelines and retweets without benefit of his name or dignity of resting place. He is only referred to as ‘ a Syrian refugee.’

The President of the United States three days ago by power of Executive Order changed the lives of about 90,000 people. Of this number where those fleeing war and horror, trying to visit family across oceans and returning to the homes they had made, desired to make here in America, only to be told “No.” In addition to that ‘no’, they were told they didn’t belong.

In these last  three days, I think of this boy in the red shirt. I think of his mother. His father. His family. I think of the life they were fleeing, the hope they took with them as they entered this boat to take them into the rather embraceable unknown. I think of him and how the sea swallowed him only to have the land retrieve him:  the humanity lost in the seek of power.

The President has proven he has neither empathy, sympathy or foresight. We are, and should be able to disagree on matters of theology; such discourse is helpful. However, theology should not replace humanity! 

He has neither the deft of political skill to navigate these waters those in elected powers should have some knowledge of. He has put policy over people and has called it “protection” and “patriotism”. There is no place in the Executive Branch for a person whom lacks humility, strength or wisdom. He has deemed himself and those around him the only ones worthy of wielding discernment needed to deem who is and who is not worthy…of humanity. There is no space allotted for those in power to behave this way. And none shall be given.

The poet Waran Shire wrote a about this, this fleeing from home. One clause is “running when home has teeth.” I could not imagine being so desparate for safety that I flee all I know, comfortable and confident in all that is or will be unknown, carrying only what I can hold in my heart. This mother lost that portion of her heart because she couldn’t hold on to him tight enough. 

My heart broke for her and him…this little boy swallowed and given back by the sea. I wanted to grab him, hold him and just cry. I wanted to shake him, and hold him to my heart. Why? Compassion should move you to action. As a Christian, it is this compassion that compels me to act in times of uncertainty, malice, and sorrow. 

More than likely, this little boy was Arabic, from a Muslim country, and it did not matter to me. Humanity is and should be independent of my theological ideology. At that moment, I was a mother…whom happened to be a Christian. Some things are universal:  grief is one of them.

In times such as these, it is easy to allow fear and self-preservation to overtake humanity. This must not become normal. There is something greater locked inside of humanity and it must be protected by humanity-and that is HOPE.

The shores of this nation have offered that for centuries now. For the leader of such a nation to shut the door because of fear, extreme nationalism, and hatred is to devalue humanity. Assigning patriotism to this insanity does not cure it. 

What does cure this, what perserves hope, is affirmation of what is good and the confirmation of what will never be good. We beat back the dark by exposing it, not excusing it. We fight to maintain hope.

 As we maintain it, we share it and allow others to continue to rage against the dying of the light as well…no matter whom they are or where they are from.

We maintain hope.

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