May 21, 2019

How Faith Communities Can Change the Dialogue from Hate to Love

Kimi-Roux James, ADRA International News

During a recent summit held in Geneva, Switzerland, Jonathan Duffy, president for the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), joined hundreds of interfaith world leaders to discuss fostering inclusivity and countering hate speech to enhance the protection of religious minorities, refugees, and migrants.

Duffy served on a panel of lawyers and executive directors organized by the International Association for the Defense of Religious Liberty. He shared some of the global trends in migration and highlighted what drives migration.

Four C’s that Drive Migration

In his opening statement, Duffy highlighted four “C’s” that drive migration: concentration, corruption, conflict, and climate change.

“The concentration I speak of is a concentration of jobs, wealth, and knowledge, both individually and geographically,” Duffy said. “Knowledge and economy with its associated emphasis with technology are concentrating wealth and power, and with it, jobs. This is leading toward a migration to the cities.”

Duffy highlighted particular aspects of the second “C,” which is corruption. “It's arguably the biggest drag on economic development,” he said. He quoted former World Bank president Jim Young Kim, who likened corruption to a dollar put into the pocket of a corrupt official or business person that is a dollar stolen from those who need it most.

Conflict was another “C” that Duffy addressed as a driving factor of migration. He spoke about countries suffering ongoing war, like Syria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Myanmar, and Afghanistan, and envisioned a world where conflicts like those were reduced.

“We can hope and pray that all these conflicts are resolved and at least managed,” Duffy said. “But who would be optimistic to imagine that would happen? Indeed, as the world is turning increasingly to authoritarian leaders, they rely on existential threats to justify their oppression; conflicts appear more likely than not.”

In discussing the fourth “C,” climate change, Duffy referenced how current temperatures are more extreme than those in times past, and that essential resources like land and fresh water are becoming more scarce.

“Some low-lying coastal areas like Bangladesh are densely populated. Inevitably, [climate change] will result in migration that is likely to accelerate in pace and scale,” Duffy said. “I recognize what I’ve painted is a very bleak picture, but I do not see a reduction in these migration trends in the foreseeable future.”

Worrying Trends

According to Duffy, who shared reports on current government infrastructures, Brazil withdrew from the UN compact agreement this year. The agreement is a document that encourages businesses around the world to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies.

Duffy added that Thailand has had an anti-immigrant “crackdown amid fear of immigrants stealing their jobs.” Additionally, in Africa, Duffy said, there is a high anti-immigrant feeling spreading in Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa.

“South Africa has been rocked by violent attacks on immigrants who they claim are taking their jobs,” he pointed out.

Amidst the discussion of negative trends, Duffy voiced why we, as human beings, should not see immigrants as enemies. “Many have made valuable contributions to our society,” he said. “A Russian immigrant started Google; the genius behind Apple, Steve Jobs, was the son of a Syrian immigrant; and they are not the exception.”

The Need for Compassion

As Duffy shared a fifth and last “C” he said it is the most important one: compassion.

“Who is speaking up for justice for all?” Duffy asked. “Who is having compassion for the less privileged and the marginalized? If not us, then who? If we use our combined voice, it is a force that cannot be ignored. We also have a role to play in our faith communities, to change the dialogue of hate and ignorance to peace, love, and acceptance.”

ADRA leaders have said the organization will be highlighting service around its networks to honor Refugee Sabbath, officially designated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church for June 15, 2019. It is just a few days before June 20, set aside by the United Nations as World Refugee Day.