Many cultures and religions stress the importance of offering hospitality to strangers and to treat them well. For example, the parable of the Good Samaritan strongly makes this point. However, examination of our nation’s actions call into question how well we adhere to this idea.
A most obvious example of our failure to live up to this ideal is how poorly the U.S. treats people seeking asylum here. Many of them are fleeing violence in their home country that puts their lives at risk. Little mentioned is the reality that the U.S. often has played a key role in creating the violent conditions in these countries. A prominent example is Honduras, where the U.S. supported the results of a military coup in 2009 that ousted democratically elected President Manuel Zeyala. Making matters worse, the U.S. has since approved highly questionable election results, especially in 2017. The violence in Honduras has increased dramatically following the coup, and living conditions have terribly deteriorated.
Other people fleeing harsh economic conditions, partially caused by U.S. trade policies, face severe conditions at the U.S. border, including the separation of families. In addition, people who are being good Samaritans by trying to help immigrants survive in the Arizona desert are arrested, essentially for exhibiting compassion, a cornerstone of most religions.
Another example is how we treat fellow citizens, particularly racial minorities among us. The systemic bias inherent in this country makes it difficult for these others here. For example, the police and the injustice system treat whites and minorities very differently. In addition, the way schools are funded means people living in areas with low housing values, primarily minorities and low-income whites, receive generally inferior education and fewer opportunities for good-paying jobs. Moreover, people living in these same areas are often exposed to greater environmental contamination.
Last but not least is our attitude toward people the government and media have declared enemies. For example, the U.S. and its compliant corporate media claimed Iraq was a major threat to the U.S. due to its weapons of mass destruction. This blatantly false claim would have been laughable, but many people here blindly accepted it. Making matters worse, people here cheered the U.S. “shock and awe” bombing campaign and the subsequent killings of innocent Iraqis. Apparently, many of us didn’t care about these Iraqis, fellow human beings who happened to be the other.
Recently, the U.S. has imposed incredibly harsh sanctions on North Korea, Venezuela and Iran, nations that aren’t military threats to the U.S. Just as with Iraq, the government and complicit media have declared them enemies. These sanctions, similar to the sanctions imposed on Iraq in the 1990s, hit the civilians the hardest and do not bring about regime change. These sanctions also don’t receive much media attention, but they continue to increasingly harm these other civilians, and we do nothing to stop them. Where are the good Samaritans?
The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center’s “Peace Train” runs every Friday in the Colorado Daily.