二○一八年八月四日／八月五日 Click here for English version
When Swedish Female Student Meets Afghan asylum seeker
Rev Lawrence Chan
When a Swedish female student refused to sit down in a plane about to take off from Sweden, the pilot was stopped. She was protesting against the deportation of an Afghan asylum seeker from Sweden as it would most likely mean death for the asylum seeker. The protest action was captured on her mobile phone and streamed live online. A flight attendant intervened, trying to persuade and exhort her. The student explained to those around her why and on what basis she was taking a stand. There had been both applause and jeering from passengers during the incident.
Dear brothers and sisters, how would you have reacted were you onboard that plane? A passenger who opposed the action called it a waste of everybody's time, to which the student replied, "Your only concern is your time – but what about this man's life?" Another passenger said, "I'm not bothered by what you said and you are frightening the children!" Then the mobile phone was removed from the student. Thankfully, she finally got it back from a flight attendant. We are told at the end of the video that repatriation of the Afghan asylum seeker was suspended as a result of the protest action.
To talk about refugee/asylum seeker concern at a distance is entirely different from actually sacrificing one's interests to meet the needs of them. In the story of the Good Samaritan, neither the priest nor the Levite helped the man who was beaten half-dead by the robbers (Luke 10:25-37). But in ordinary days, the two of them might have seemed more friendly, cordial and helpful than you and me. Why did they refuse to help? Were they concerned about becoming impure and unable to serve God if the man died? Or were they afraid that it was all a trap in which the man was a robber in disguise? Whether we consider the priest and the Levite justified or uncaring, the choice before us is clear – are we concerned about the life or death of the dying man (in this case the asylum seeker)? Is our love mere talk or are we prepared to pay a price for it? The Swedish student resisted pressure from many in order to fight for the retention of the asylum seeker in Sweden. Would this be your choice?
Some Christians may not agree with the student's action. "Is there a better way to do this?" "Why upset all the people and frighten the children?" "Are you old enough to understand what your country is doing? Is accommodation of refugees/asylum seeker that simple? What if there are terrorists among them?" Certainly, I believe some other Christians would have sided with the student, but only lacked the courage to do so.
Dear brothers and sisters, ethical choices are often "improvisation" that require unplanned and prompt decisions as one goes along in real life situations. It is impossible to be flawless or completely free of controversy. The important thing is that we are always prepared and we evaluate. "Love your neighbor as yourself" is our golden rule for being always prepared. Supposing you are the person in need, will the reasons for deferring help still stand? Let us learn to resist evil according to this golden rule, and give reality to "compassionate justice."