Refugee Awareness and Education: Beloved Community in Action

updated event 1.jpg

Date: October 21
Location: Antioch College (Building and room TBD)
Time: 1:30 pm

Let’s not pull punches.

The rhetoric coming from the White House about refugees is misinformed, dangerous, unnecessarily pugilistic, and inaccurate. There are not “millions of illegals” streaming into the country with plans to execute violent attacks. The average time for persons from the “problem countries” to go from a displacement camp to the United States is 22 months.

Twenty-two months of interviews, procedures, background tests, and myriad other requirements are undertaken by persons who have endured horrors and sufferings that are beyond comprehension. Yet, they often are presented by politicians and their supporters as barbarous radicals who threaten the common good. So many of these traumatized, exhausted, and frightened persons are introduced to their new home through hostility, mistrust, and outright aggression.

Taking action

Only we can change this; only through thoughtful, informed, purposed efforts can we have a truly pluralistic society. Saying that we are a safe-sanctuary community or one that wishes to mindfully explore a longitudinal approach to authentic, mutual inclusion, means nothing unless there are structures, relationships, support systems, and sustained community-building efforts. Let’s move past words on a page, and toward a new way of thinking about beloved community in our midst.

Yellow Springs is not equipped at present to be a safe-sanctuary community or to home a refugee family. What is entailed to fulfill such promises begins with mindfully exploring a longitudinal approach to authentic, mutual inclusion. Only if there are structures, relationships, support systems, and sustained community-building efforts in place can we present ourselves as a pluralistic village of sanctuary. Let’s move past words on a page, and toward a new way of thinking about beloved community in our midst.

On October 21, the BCP and Antioch College as we welcome Mike Lehner of Catholic Social Services, who will provide contextual, specific information regarding the process involved in refugee placement within southern Ohio. He’ll offer suggestions on how we can authentically be in relationship with these Miami Valley communities, as both allies and friends. We will then continue the conversation through surveys, interviews, and brainstorming. The infrastructure is in place to gather vital data, to generate reports to the various participatory groups, and to thoughtfully move forward.

For the past two years, I (Rev. Aaron Maurice Saari) have been studying, writing, researching, and building relationships to provide us a solid foundation for these efforts. It is just a foundation, however. What the work look likes, the direction that is taken, the priorities that are established: these are all TBD.

TBD by the people who show up and participate. The BCP belongs to me no more than it belongs to you.

We want to build a cooperative, longitudinal project between Yellow Springs High School, Antioch College, the Beloved Community Project (the only “membership” requirement is to be a person of goodwill), and Village government. Our hopes are that this event will mark the next step in a process I began in 2015 with a community meeting at First Presbyterian.

How to participate

There will be three events: October 21, 28, and November 16. More detail on each of these in the coming weeks. Right now, you can help by participating on October 21. Equally important, you can help by providing us data.

If you are an Antioch student and would like to participate, even if you cannot make this initial meeting, please fill out this survey.

If you are a YSHS student and would like to participate, even if you cannot make this initial meeting, please fill out this survey.

If you are a member of the larger YS community and would like to participate, even if you cannot make this initial meeting, please fill out this survey.

Questions can be addressed to bcp45387@gmail.com

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