5 Things you can actually do about ISIS, Syrian Refugees, and Paris

It’s easy to feel helpless.  It’s easy to feel angry.  We westerners were all once again jarred from our daily routines and violated.  Our safety feels lessened, our guard is up, we’re on edge. Given all of that most people seem to have found an aimlessness in their anger.  They turn to social media, news media, and pundit stump speeches with great catchy memes to vent their frustrations.  We change our profile pic, proclaim their solidarity, and then try desperately to get back to the daily routine which provided such comfort before.

It all becomes meaningless, if we let it.  I’m writing today to say, don’t let it.  Here are 5 things you can actually do, which have meaning and value and potentially lasting effects related to the issue of ISIS, the attacks on Paris, and our brothers and sisters fleeing Syria.

1) Support The UNHCR and the DFMS.

The United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) is the actual international agency tasked with helping refugees. The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (DFMS) Migration Ministries is the part Episcopal Branch of the Jesus Movement responsible for church outreach to the displaced.  Syria is not alone, nor is Paris. Just days before Paris a similar attack occurred in Beruit, Lebanon. Over 40 died, and hundreds more were wounded.  There are 100,000 Bhutanese refugees from Nepal, and nearly 2.5 million Nigerians are displaced internally or as refugees to other countries due to Boko Haram.  

Get involved, volunteer, donate and get educated on the real state of the world today.  To learn more visit:

2) Love your neighbor.

Imagine a world where each of us sought out the lonely, the sad, the hurting and provided loving friendship and compassion.  If we were all doing that there would be very few people to whom a caliphate would appeal.  After all what is the profile of a terrorist? Most cases of terrorism recruitment follow the same profile we see in gangs.  It’s generally disenfranchisement which is met with a charismatic appeal to a bond amongst brothers.  In other words, terrorism is a powerful reaction to an unloving world.  

I believe Jesus did not command us to love one another (John 13:34) only because love is nice. He knew that love saves.  It saves people, it saves souls, it saves relationships.  He knew that love protects.  It protects us from despair, from depression, from loneliness, and yes from charismatic evil-doers.  

Today, take a moment to think about your workplace, your neighborhood, your church and your community.  Who have you neglected to befriend?  Who is eating dinner alone, or not at all? Who struggles to relate to the world?

Once you identify them, decide what ways you can show your love.  Is it a visit for coffee? Is it the offer of a ride to the store? Have you even introduced yourself?  Have you asked what them what they’d like you to uplift in prayer?

3) Pray.

In the Episcopal church, we say prayers of the people.  It may be that you have been sincerely praying them forever or you may have been paying them lip-service on Sundays and then going about your routine. Maybe some of both.  I urge you today and everyday to make a commitment to pray the prayers of the people, adding your own intercessions, and stop running through them like a sing-song poem or chant.  Pause, reflect on the names, and meaningfully reach for the holy spirit within you.  Join your power with the power of the prayers of the world.  

4) Demand better media coverage.

As westerners it is easy to forget that the world we live in is not a peaceful place every day.  We recall 9-11 and the attacks on Charlie Hebdo, but the truth is we recall them because they affected westerners with western news media access.  The same and worse is happening every day, and it is hardly discussed on this side of the pond.

If your regular news outlets have left you in the lurch, you have two ways to influence that.  First, vote with your remote.  Stop watching unhelpful news media and buying papers/subscriptions which ignore news.  If enough people do this the market will correct the problem.  Second, literally send demands for better coverage.  Most print news media offer letters to the editor as do traditional television.  If your favorite news media outlet is online, send blog posts and video commentary.  Demand that information include coverage of what’s happening in non-westernized countries.

5) Remember.

Take a moment right now to put a reminder on whatever calendar you choose.  Put it weekly or monthly.  In the reminder put the words, “How have I acted to the ongoing refugee crisis today? What would Jesus have me do next?”  

In other words, don’t let yourself go back to your routine.  Remember who you are, remember whose you are, and live your faith in actions every day.

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