I have many amazing friends with huge hearts. I am often bombarded with their good will and moral viewpoints via Facebook, and I am encouraged by their love of humanity and their desire to spread goodness in the world. This is probably why I was so surprised when a Facebook friend posted this on her wall
“I have been seeing a lot of negative posts about the government’s handling of asylum seeker/ boat people and how unfair it all is. I am personally very happy with the governments stance on the issue!!!!”
I sometimes get involved in online debates, but this time I didn’t respond. Australia has been debating what to do about Asylum Seekers for over a decade, so my measly attempt, via Social Media, to convert her way of thinking was probably futile. Besides, I have three little people who require my attention during the day, and that attention gets easily sapped by online debates.
I suppose her joy at the Governmen’ts position on Asylum Seekers shouldn’t be that surprising. Somehow in Australian society, we have come to believe that there is a problem with people arriving here by boat. Yes, there is a problem here, but not the one we so frequently hear about. The problem is not their arrival, its our attitude that they are a threat. This attitude has led the Australian Government to find a solution to the so called “problem” of Asylum Seekers. Policies of detention have seemingly had little impact. Policies of Temporary Protection Visas offer little comfort to refugees who’s homelands target them or their people. We are currently reintroducing a deterrent policy, whereby people smugglers are ultimately put out of business by ensuring that no Asylum Seeker who attempts to reach our land gets re-settled here. This last policy looks good on paper, but it is morally corrupt.
As soon as we start seeing people as a means to an ends, we have lost all moral credibility. Regardless of who enabled them to come to Australia by boat, vulnerable people fleeing desperate circumstances, deserve to be treated as human beings – nothing less. Judas, Jesus’ betrayer, used Jesus as a means to an ends too. He gave Jesus up in order to profit in silver. In the same way that the Australian Government sees Asylum Seekers as a “problem” to be palmed off, the Pharisees too saw Jesus as a “problem” to be eradicated. Judas, their insider, was too happy to help them out. That was, until, he realised his error.
In fact, Jesus’ death by betrayal in this manner highlights the very sin He saved us from. Our “original sin” is that WE are most important, and outsiders, or those who threaten our way of life, can get stuffed. The Pharisees couldn’t even see goodness in Jesus, God’s own son! We all have this within us. We all fall short of Jesus’ perfection by seeing threat instead of God. It is easier for us to believe that Asylum Seekers are a threat to our way of life, to our culture, to our budget or to our jobs. As a society, the collective apathy is enough to allow this to happen with our democratic consent.
There are some in our society who are vocal about the rights of Asylum Seekers. They are usually the ones who are left to pick up the pieces of lives broken by this abhorrent government policy. In my eyes, those are the people doing the work of Jesus, because they can see the humanity in each person, and fight for the right for it to be recognised.
I end by reiterating that no person should be used as a means to an end. Using Asylum Seekers as a deterrent to people smugglers does just this. Children and women, men seeking a sanctuary from torture, death, surveillance and lack of opportunity in their homelands. Vulnerable, helpless people who deserve to be treated with as much humanity as any person. I cant help but think, Jesus would be more present to them, than to anyone willing to treat them as our Government is so willing to treat them.