I am FED UP with evangelical zealots screaming about how the United States is a Christian country, but that we must not accept Muslim Syrian refugees, or that we should surveil mosques, or that we shouldn’t spend our taxes on the sick, poor, and elderly. That’s not Christian.
I’m not a practicing Christian anymore, but I guess I missed the day in sunday school that discussed how we shouldn’t show mercy for those who think and look different than us. I don’t remember Jesus ever preaching that the poor just need to work harder, and that it’s not our responsibility to help them.
Philosopher George Santayana famously declared, “Those who do not learn from history are bound to repeat it.” Consider the current situation of Muslims in the US. Their places of worship are being attacked and vandalized. Politicians are calling for Muslims to carry special IDs wherever they go. This rhetoric is similar to that of pre-World War II Nazi Germany. And that’s not an unfair comparison, given our country’s history of racism, Islamophobia, and xenophobia.
A black man was kicked and beaten by an overwhelmingly white crowd at a (you guessed it) Donald Trump rally, as the attackers chanted “All Lives Matter.” A few days ago, a mosque in Pflugerville, Texas was broken into, feces smeared on the walls and desecrated Qu’rans covering the floor. We have seen a dramatic resurgence of outward racism and hatred in the United States, and I don’t see it slowing down soon.
I would like to point out that Jesus was, in fact, a refugee. A brown-skinned, non-Christian socialist. If He were among the Syrians fleeing certain death hoping to reach the United States, I have no doubt that most of our ultraconservative colleagues would turn Him away in a heartbeat.
So when Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz assert that we should only let Christian Syrians in, leaving our muslim brothers and sisters to die at the hands of our common enemy, ask yourself this: What Would Jesus Do?
The best advice I’ve received is more of a constant message from my parents than a statement: they constantly remind me that hard work, not intelligence, brings success. Both of them are remarkably smart and successful–they both have PhDs and teach biochemistry and genetics at A&M–but they understand the value of diligence, and for years have ingrained that within me. My parents came from very humble backgrounds, solidly working-class families, and used the opportunities at their hands to pursue their goals and improve their situations. They were the “smart kids” at their schools, and even in college, but they never took anything for granted, especially their money. Now, as I am a full-time student, they want me to dedicate myself fully to my education, still having fun, but treating school like a job. In my household it’s hard to be narcissistic, though; any time I share that I made a good grade in a class, they say “congratulations, only nine more years of school to go,” referring to their expectation that I will pursue a professional degree or a doctorate. It’s not so much about pressure, as much as it is about knowing that if I put in the work now (delayed gratification), I can reap the rewards later. I’m very privileged to be in the position I’m in, and I hope to make them (and myself) proud.
On a completely different note, the worst advice I have ever been given came from my hair stylist. In the eight grade, he had this vision in his head of me with a stylish crew cut, and for some reason, I let him go for it. That was an awful decision on my part. It’s not that I have a lumpy head or anything; it’s just that I looked like Caillou joined the Army. It was bad. I got made fun of SO MUCH the next day at school. One of the athletics coached shouted to me in the hallway, “Hey, Kapler, you got cancer??” Like what the fuck? Who says that? What kind of adult… what kind of teacher… WHAT? And honestly though, it wasn’t even that bad of a haircut. People suck.