never look away

Seeing the young woman forcibly whisked away by strangers, her family standing there motionless, paralyzed by fear, gave me chills. Though they were simply actors in a movie, it stirred something in me.

The film, Never Look Away, begins with the systematic kidnapping, sterilization and extermination of Nazi Germany's "undesirables"—the infirm, the mentally ill, the disabled—children and adults like my son Calvin whose life, as my friend Chris Gabbard describes in an article and in his recent memoir, is valuable beyond reason. In Hitler's regime, children like Calvin were guinea pigs, tortured in medical experiments and murdered in a state-sponsored effort to "cleanse" society of what Nazis deemed as stains on the Aryan race. Then the Nazis went after the Jews, likening them to thieves, rats and demons, instilling fear and hate in order to further their cause, which was to eradicate them.

These images are sickeningly reminiscent of what I see happening today. Refugees from war-torn, poverty-stricken, violent and corrupt nations are being portrayed by this administration as murders, rapists, snakes, infestations. Like animals, they are being crammed by the hundreds into spartan cages where their health and well-being are in jeopardy—little water, little food, no privacy, no basic hygiene. Their children are being forcibly separated from them. These refugees—our fellow human beings—are no different than most of us, except that they are desperate; they are good people, love their children, want a better life. We are not better than they. We can't lay claim to this chunk of earth stolen from its natives. We can't exploit their labor while neglecting their fundamental human needs.

Though I'm no Christian, I find myself asking, what would Jesus do?

Some people ask why we should be caring for refugees when we should be caring for "our own." Why does it have to be a choice? Can't we do both? I don't know how to solve this humanitarian crisis, though I have some ideas. But one thing for sure is that the current treatment of innocents is barbaric.

The other day someone characterized me as "pro-abortion." I corrected her by explaining I am pro-choice, then underscored the difference. I went on to point out, at least in my mind, the hypocrisies of many so-called pro-lifers—people who support capital punishment (state-sanctioned murder), and yet oppose food stamps, universal healthcare, same-sex adoption, basic care for refugees, a living wage and other measures that help vulnerable populations live and thrive and that contribute to a healthy society.

I think back on the film and on the Nazi regime it depicted, one in which its fascist leaders deemed some lives (Caucasian, Reich Church Protestants, healthy, cisgender) more deserving than others (Jewish, Romani, non-Europeans, the infirm, the disabled, Leftists, homosexuals, POWs, Catholics and followers of other religions.) I think about a world in which people, thanks to ignorance and propaganda, fear and hate others. I think about nations like ours whose so-called leader ridicules people like my disabled son, denigrates women, and maligns decent people who are Black and Brown and Gay and Bi and Trans and Jew and atheist and foreigner.

I think again about the atrocious conditions these refugees face in what epitomize modern-day concentration camps. I think about how so many Americans choose to avert their eyes. I consider the Canadian cartoonist who was fired for his depiction of a golfing POTUS playing through drowned refugees, Oscar Martinez Ramirez and his two-year-old daughter, Valeria. I am reminded that I must remain vigilant in protesting such inhumanity. I am reminded that silence equals complicity. I am reminded, when it comes to atrocities, we must never look away.



  1. you are so undeniably and painfully right!

  2. The events mentioned in this post have shaken me to the core. I have never been this unnerved and uncomfortable in my 58 years of life. Has the world gone mad? What has value? The if not the environment and nature and fellow humans. Everything I consider sacred is now expendable. How has this happened? Talking about it is the start to correcting this imbalance.
    I think you and I see this so clearly because we have had to fight like hell to keep our children alive.
    Thank you Christy.