Today, I bring a special story with me. The author is unknown, but I think he would be glad to know what circles his works have now cast.
It is the story of the little people of Swabedoo. Swabedoo is a little village, and the Swabedoodahs were friendly and loved it to give each other fleeces as a present when they met. They showed their appreciation with it, and that made them happy. But near the village lived a big, green kobold, too …
One night, when the big, green kobold stood at the edge of the woods again, he found a friendly, little Swabedoodah. “Isn’t it a wonderful day, today?” the little one asked, smiling. The green kobold just made a drab face and didn’t answer. “Here, take a warm, soft fleece,” said the little one, “this one’s especially beautiful. It’s surely meant for you, otherwise I had given it away already.” But the kobold didn’t take the fleece. First, he looked around to all sides, to be sure no-one was watching or listening. Then, he bent over to the little one and whispered in his ear: “Listen, don’t be so generous with those fleeces of yours! Don’t you know that, one day, you won’t have any fleeces left, if you just give away everything?” Surprised and a little helpless, the little Swabedoodah looked up to the kobold. Who had, in the mean time, taken the pouch of the little one’s shoulder and opened it. He sounded very satisfied, when he said: “Didn’t I tell you? Just hardly 217 fleeces you’ve got in your pouch – so, if I were you, I’d be careful giving them away!” And with that, the kobold went off, on his big green feet, and left behind a confused and unhappy Swabedoodah at the edge of the woods.
But there’s more to come, the encounter with the kobold already begins to cast circles:
In front of his home in Swabedoo the little, confused Swabedoodah sat, brooding. It didn’t take long, before an acquaintance passed by, with whom he had already exchanged many warm, soft fleeces. “What a beautiful day!” his friend exclaimed, reached inside his pouch and gave the other one a fleece. Who, however, didn’t accept it joyfully but warded it off with his hands. “No, no! You’d rather keep it,” the little one exclaimed, “who knows, how quickly your supply will decrease. One day, you’ll be without fleeces, just like that!” The friend didn’t get it, just shrugged, put the fleece back into his pouch and walked away, saying good-bye softly. But he took confused thoughts with him – and on the same night, in the village, one could hear three more times, how one Swabedoodah said to another: “I’m sorry, but I don’t have a warm, soft fleece for you: I have to be careful not to run out of them.”
In the course of a few days more and more Swabedoodahs came round with this mode of behaviour. With the withholding of the fleeces the kindness of the Swabedoodahs decreased, too, they became suspicious, backed down more and more and felt more and more uneasy in their streets.
If I look in these days into the news or into facebook, I feel reminded to that story. There is talk of financial spoiled refugees, of a Germany that hosts before long the whole world or – help! –of Islam. Rational arguments don’t really help, at times neither if political parties or organizations can prove that refugees truly don’t are rolling in money and that Germany don’t hosts the whole world, neither whole Syria. And, with all honesty: I never met a Muslim who had been threatening or beyond all measure missionizing. (Not to mention the fact that not by a long shot all Syrians and other refugees are Muslims.)
From where comes this fear of Muslims, of strangers, of “Over”-Flooding or of changes in and of itself?
Maybe the cause is that a lot of people feel uneasy in their own life and changes - even little ones – seem to threaten their balance.
Maybe their own rootedness is not so deep, so that they fear to be entrained by the deracination of the refugees.
And maybe fear seems to be more reasonable for them than courage.
But fear has never been a good advisor.
We cannot loose something alone – we can gain, we can profit, too, as individuals and as a society.
In former times at this time of the year the people thanked for the harvest – today the meaning of this feast has widely got lost. Maybe we have no more approach to the farming context, but we can be thankful for that what we have and for that what we worked for in the last year: A place to live, suitable clothes and shoes, a greengrocer and a supermarket, a labour, family and friends, certain vocational targets …
If I read again and again news and reports about the situation of the refugees here and elsewhere I am immediately twice as thankful for it.
Who still thinks that it’s not so bad, to those I recommend this article.
And if I read then about a Catholic nursery that refuses the hosting of refugee children and not even wants to take a stand on it (German article), then I feel inevitably reminded to this cartoon („Love your neighbour like yourself!“ – “And if he’s a refugee, or gay?” – “Do you have something with your ears?”) which reached me in the previous days a bunch of times through facebook.
Love of neighbour only then if it is agreeable? In my assessment that has no more to do a lot with Christian values, rather with selfishness or comfort.
But there is help for it. For example the refugeeguide which enlightens novices about common manners and the public life – albeit in a sophisticated linguistic level. It can be read in German, English, French, Arabic, Pashtu, Farsi, Serbian, Albanian and Macedonian.
Or the post of a blogger who took the gloves off: Mark Heckert’s report about his first time in a food distribution in Aachen, Germany, and about what induced him to do so (German article).
For today, I want to top off with a prayer of holy Francis of Assisi (1181/82-1226) whose feast day we celebrate today:
May God bless us
With discomfort at easy answers, half-truths and superficial relationships,
So that we will live deeply in our hearts.
May God bless us
With anger at injustice, oppression and exploitation of people and the earth,
So that we will work for justice, equity and peace.
May God bless us
With tears to shed for those who suffer,
So that we will reach out our hands to comfort them and change their pain to joy.
And may God bless us
With the foolishness to think that we can make a difference in our world,
So that we will do the things which others say cannot be done.