DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU'D WANT OTHER TO BE TOLD TO DO UNTO YOU

Last weekend, leaders in my church presented messages directed toward women as part of the women's session of general conference. (You can listen to and read the talks given here.)

A prevalent theme throughout the videos and talks was that of helping others; in particular, refugees.

This is an important, wonderful message and I was happy to read it.

We should be helping others.

We should be helping refugees- welcoming them and caring for them with open arms and hearts.

But are we?

Over the past several months I've seen another sort of message making the rounds. I've seen it on facebook, on timelines tucked between crock pot recipes and inspirational memes; a message that says, clearly, over and over again,"We can't take refugees," "They don't belong here," "They should be in a habitat more like their own," (not making this up; like, are they pandas or human?), "It's too risky," "It's not our responsibility."

I hear this same message, even at church- sometimes in hushed voices in the halls, and sometimes spoken boldly in class.

It's equal parts frustrating and heartbreaking to me that many Christians are so reluctant, even to the point of refusing, to help those who so badly need it.

I've sought out ways I can help- donations that are needed, community support, even tutoring children. I've found many places to serve, mostly through other churches in my area.

It was refreshing to me to finally hear leaders in the church I am trying so hard to belong to step forward and instruct us to help. I have great hope that many members will heed this counsel. I mean, Mormons can be pretty good when it comes to service projects.

So what's my deal? We're told to help and so we'll help. All is well, right?

Except--

Why do we, collectively, have to be told, flat out that we need to be assisting in a crisis that has been going on for quite some time, before we will lend support?

As I said, it is wonderful that this message was delivered. It is good, and necessary, and I can't help but wonder if it was given in response to the embarrassingly resistant, bigoted mentality that could be mistaken as the norm.

By all means, reminders to be a decent human being are needed and welcomed. Such reminders motivate and encourage, and allow us to push ourselves to do better, to do more than we might have thought we were capable of.

They should never serve as the go-ahead to finally do what we should have been doing all along.

If we know in our heart that something is right (and helping others is, undoubtedly, the right thing to do), we have a responsibility to act on that. We have a responsibility to move forward, not wait around for permission to act as we should.

Imagine you're standing on a dock and someone is drowning, just a short distance out. You're holding a life preserver that you could easily toss to the person, bringing them to safety. Would you throw it? Or would you wait, clutching the preserver tightly, standing around until someone comes along and tells you that you should save the drowning person's life?

How long would you stand on that dock?

How long would you be able to justify your lack of action?

How many more people must suffer, needlessly, while we wait for a green light?

How much more hurt and heartache must we inflict, even in the name of good intent, before the heavens open and we're smacked upside the head?

When will we stop withholding comfort, compassion, and love, simply because we haven't been explicitly instructed to give it?

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