The Economics of Compassion: Refugees, Abortion, and Social Media Debates


The social media town hall debates have been something fierce in the aftermath of the Paris bombing.  The terrorist attack has heightened the ongoing debate about America’s position with respect to migration, specially refugee migration.  Several state’s governors have closed the door to refugees, including my home state of Texas.

The agreement/disagreement with this move has tended to align along political tendencies, at least as far as my Facebook feed suggests.  Conservative friends have largely taken a hard pass at the prospect of their state taking in Syrian refugees.  The driving motivations behind this position are twofold: fear and economics.  Many fear that some of the refugees are ISIS wolves in Syrian clothing.  Many others are concerned about the econometrics of the influx of new family units in America. My progressive friends have largely advocated for compassionate open arms for Syrian refugees  The driving motivations behind this position are also twofold: “life matters” and “this is the moral thing to do.” But these particular adversarial disagreements in social media spaces strike me as a bit odd. They are odd because it appears that we have something of a role reversal in play between the political tendencies.

Here is what I mean: Let’s flash back to May, 14 2015 when the House passed the ban on abortions after 20 weeks. My progressive friends were opposed to this ban on the basis of two motivating factors: fear and economics.  There was fear that this ban would restrict women’s rights or result in more dangerous abortions occurring in unclean spaces. There was lingering concern that more unwanted babies would mean an economic burden to the women who give birth, specifically in economically disadvantaged areas. On the other hand, my conservative friends pushed for this ban, motivated by two factors: “life matters” and “this is the moral thing to do.”

So, if all of us can agree that “life matters” and that “there are moral truths” and that we need to consider the economic impact of individual and collective decisions and that fear is a real thing in many an individual’s heart, then why can we not apply them consistently across issues?

Seriously, if all employ the same motivating values, then it seems we should do one of two things: we either permit both Syrian refugees and babies to enter America or, we agree to implement a program of denying refugees and aborting babies.  Again, let’s just be consistent here, at least at the level of our Facebook conversations.

Or, let me put it all in the positive — lets just all agree to come up with an economic system that puts most of our fears to rest and then immediately adopt a system of allowing babies to be born and refugees to have a safe space to live for a season.  If you are for refugees, then be for babies.  If you are for babies, then be for refugees.  

And in the end, can we all just agree to allow babies to be born?  After all, I have never seen a baby take up guns and bombs so that they can kill people.  I’m not suggesting that all Syrian adults are terrorists or anything close to that absurd claim.  But let’s be real about the nature of babies.

About Doug Hankins

Although not a Christian in his youth, Doug came to believe in Jesus during his teenage years. When not playing sports or pastoring Doug is probably spending time with his wife, reading a good book, or drinking some hot tea. Doug's first book Dawson Trotman: In His Own Words is available wherever books are sold. You can follow Doug on twitter.
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