In response to the current political debate about asylum seekers,
I propose that the Australian government agree to triple our very small annual refugee intake, in a spirit of generosity.
I propose that the government publish statistics about the costs of surveillance, detention and legal action regarding asylum seekers, widely and regularly, in a spirit of honesty.
I propose that the government enter more rigorously into bilateral negotiations regarding the causes of people fleeing their countries, and seek to redirect funds from protection (from unarmed, impoverished asylum seekers) to targetted aid to such countries in a spirit of mercy.
I propose that the government ask more openly for groups and individuals who are willing to offer time, resources and care to refugees, in a spirit of hospitality.
I propose that the government document and publish the stories of asylum seekers so that the public may better understand the reasons why people would risk their lives to leave their countries, in a spirit of compassion.
I propose that the government ask the people of Australia to spend 1 minute on the first day of each month in silence, contemplation and lament for people fleeing unjust and violent homelands, in a spirit of prayer.
I propose that the government establish an advisory council of former refugees, in particular those arriving by boat, to help advise us as a nation as to how we might respond to the current refugee crisis, in a spirit of hope.
Terrified, desperate people in fragile boats are not the threat to our identity, security or economy. The threat is a political and media culture that feeds our insecurities for the sake of its own well-being.
This is not a party poitical issue, but it is political for God's sake (see Matthew 25).
If the politicians and media know that we are a people of hospitality, generosity, truthfulness, mercy, compassion, prayer and hope, they will address us differently. Rather, they see us as self-interested, defensive, and fearful of the truth.
I refuse to believe that God calls us to be the image of who the media think we are. The absurdity of this debate is that as a nation we are made of arrivals. May we lead our politicans rather than be led by them at this time.
This is my proposal and prayer. It may seem simplistic and irrational. That would make it like the current political debate at worst!
We will not be defined as a people by fear and distrust, but by compassion and hope.
thanks for listening. clearly I am wound up about all of this....