One of the big reasons why many reject the United Nations today is because of its stance on immigration. The values of the United Nations about displaced people and the need for others to show compassion and care towards them are biblical values. From the Exodus of Israel onwards, God has consistently instructed that we care for the stranger, the foreigner and the displaced person, as though we were the ones that were displaced ourselves.
Throughout the Prophets also, this is a biblical command. It is not something we have a choice about. The Prophets even told Israel they must care for the Edomites when they were displaced. The Edomites were enemies to Israel and a security risk, but Israel’s duty of care for them was still something they were commanded to obey.
The stipulations of the United Nations today demand that nations take care of immigrants and displaced persons. This was also an outcome of the Second World War, when so many Jews were on the high seas trying to get away from Hitler. A boat load of Jews was turned away trying to enter the USA. There have been other times of crisis, like the Vietnamese crises, when the number of immigrants coming to nations like Australia was a great concern to the Australians. But they were eventually accepted and have proved to be a blessing to Australia.
As with Vietnam, these immigrant crises are often caused by international events that Western, more prosperous nations have a hand in. The most recent crisis is the Syrian refugee crisis, which is part of the biggest refugee crisis known to human history. The reason for this immigration is that life has become impossible for many in Syria, due to war, terrorism and devastating conditions. The West has had a hand in this, over many years, notably the competition between the West and the Soviet Union, now Russia, for influence in the region.
Reasons for the standoff in the area also include the support of Israel, in the face of Palestinian suffering. In so many cases here, clear biblical instructions about caring for the weaker people have been broken on the basis of the security concerns for Israel. The same in Libya. The devastation there has been immense, with considerable Western influence.
The same with African nations. The numbers of Africans drowning in the Mediterranean Sea trying to reach better conditions is catastrophic. Yet our answer is to build a wall in northern Africa to keep them out of Europe.
That is the third wall that is going up. One in Israel, one on the southern border of the USA and now one in northern Africa, all designed to keep the suffering of others shut out of our nations. Other walls are also going up in Eastern Europe. But the bible tells us not to build walls, but instead to seek the healing of the poor and even of our enemy. Jesus says build tables. It seems so clear, that if we don’t like immigration, if we think it is a threat to our nations, that we work together with other nations to bring recovery to the regions that are suffering.
The part the West plays in the poverty of Africa is well known. The illegal deposits from Africa the West holds in its bank accounts, the crippling debt it holds Africa under, its unethical and illegal business deals and acquisitions of resources, its trade advantages over Arica, all lead to amassing wealth in the West from Africa. The aid the West gives in return, which has significantly dropped due the false claim of austerity, is nothing compared to the benefit the West takes from the continent. Austerity is the false claim that Western governments have no money, while tax breaks to wealthy corporations have shifted huge sums of wealth to the top income earners. Half of the world’s total wealth is now owned by 1% of the world’s population. This is the world’s problem, not immigration.
People like their home nations and not want to emigrate. They do it because of necessity.
It’s unbelievable that we don’t address these issues if we want to address immigration. We can’t keep the world poor and then also keep those poor out of our nations. But working together with other nations of the world to rebuild these devastated regions scares us. We think that if these nations became strong, they may threaten us in the future. We want nations weak, at least weaker than us.
We have seen this where we have lived in Africa. One local government leader helps his own tribe and keeps the others at arm’s length. It is said that if we help the others, they will take over from us. So, the others are deliberately subjugated. But this is what necessitates violence, because the only way the others can get any help, is to take over the office by force. So, the cycle of violence continues, which we say is religious. Religion is only employed to falsely justify the violence.
We have tried to turn people to the teachings of Jesus in this situation, which say we must help any person on the road to Jericho, not minding their race or religion. Only this mutual care cuts off the violence, meaning that we don’t have to fight to get the help we need. We know that whoever is in the office will fulfil their duty of care to all people. This is what Jesus taught us, and if we don’t live this, then it isn’t as Christians that we disobey him. We disobey for ourselves. But it is blind, because our disobedience is what ruins our lives and puts us on the road of perpetual hatred and war.
I think many in our Western nations are the same. We still don’t think we can live together in mutual support. If China grows in influence, we take it as a threat. It may be a threat, but our response to it often ensures that a conflict scenario will grow. Definitely there will be many challenges as big nations prosper, but these challenges must be met by strengthening our resolve to work together. Seeking to keep nations weaker than ourselves just brings suffering to many millions. It isn’t Christian.
In Christianity we don’t have an allegiance to one country. I think this has got us into trouble many times in the past. Early Christians refused allegiance to the Caesar, although they respected Caesar. Their allegiance was to Christ as their governor which meant they cared for all people, not minding their race, nation or religion. They did what Christ commanded.
They lived the kind of humanitarian lives that the United Nations today stipulates. But today, humanitarianism is often seen as suspicious, as compromise for some reason. It isn’t compromise with the commands of Christ.
The United Nations is correct in its stipulations about our duty of care for all who suffer displacement. I grieve that the people who patrol the Mediterranean Sea to save refugees from drowning are not Christians. We owe refugees a duty of care, especially as many of them are Christians, the offspring of those some of our ancestors brought the gospel to. Our duty of care means we help those in desperate conditions and we at least do something about our part in the global injustice that helps destroy the nations they are from.
To say immigrants are criminals or terrorists isn’t good enough. Some will be criminals, just as there are criminals in any nation. Others among them are just desperate. It isn’t criminal for a hungry man to steal bread for his children. Some will be terrorists and we need to be aware of this. Our nations can monitor who enters. But the greatest cure of terrorism is to cure its grievance, much of which is the suffering of the people in their home nations. Some say the roots of terrorism are more ancient, more insidious. That may be, but Jesus (whom Paul reiterated) still taught us to overcome evil with good.
The humane stipulations of the United Nations are good. They are biblical. We should not refuse them for nationalistic reasons. As Christians, our project isn’t saving our nation from other nations that might be arising, but it is caring for the weak, the poor, the outcast. This is the mission Jesus gave us. It is protecting this humanitarian value that is our light to the nations. We can’t give it up for self-saving policies for our own people. The cross wasn’t selfsaving. It was foolishness to the world but is the only value that changes all our lives.