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March 6, 2022

This Ancient Tradition Could be the Redemption We Need

An immediate and painful fallout of war is the tidal wave of refugees. Some cross the border ready to return at a moment’s notice. Others leave without looking back, looking for anywhere safe to call home.

In less than two weeks, well over a million Ukrainian women and children have fled the violence in their country. This crisis is already worse than what was seen from the wars in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the economic and climate refugees that were already challenging Europe’s collective values. It is certain to get worse.

Migration is not a new phenomenon, but with complicated push and pull factors the world is facing challenges the likes of which we have not experienced before. No country or region is truly prepared, especially those that harden their borders and dehumanize people who are trying only to survive.

There is an old practice that, if reimagined and set on fire globally, could provide opportunities for healing and regeneration for millions. It was mentioned over twenty times in both the Bible and the Quran, and for followers of these faiths it demands a reevaluation. The tradition is adoption and long-term care and security of orphans.

If the word orphan is stretched to mean a human (children of course but adults too) who has lost connection with place, family, safety, and self-determination, how many millions would that encompass? Billions?

What could adoption remediate, where all other systems fail?

  • Homelessness
  • Redistribution of wealth
  • Overpopulation
  • Substance abuse
  • Climate and resource conflict
  • Loneliness
  • Power dynamics

In ten days, Poland has demonstrated that this can be done, taking over 50% of Ukraine’s refugees, mostly by people simply opening their doors and hearts. They have made kin. They are treating others the way they would want to be treated.

This is an example, like others we have seen over the last few years, of seeing that it is possible to make change. We can choose to say yes to things that we want as a collective, and we can reject things that are harmful.

Poland is not a bastion of good global civic behavior. Neither is Australia, where I write from, which has spent millions to keep dozens out of the country for years but immediately offered open arms to Ukrainians, because to be honest, they are perceived as “European.”

Another problem in Australia, also reflected in many other spaces, is housing. Prices have skyrocketed, pushing many people out of secure housing and forcing others to spend a good portion of their income on shaky mortgages. The market also highlights inequality in wealth and political power.

So with that in mind, adoption starts at home. Families and friends adopt each other to provide a security net and to ease the burdens that come when people face life’s hardships alone. This is expanded to those we know are at risk, often through no fault of their own. Then we reach to others- the foster kids, in situ refugees and migrants, those in care, the homeless.

Time is also a consideration. Can we make up for past grievances? Can we commit to people over a lifetime, as we do with our blood family?

Act on this through love of the present and a hope for the future, and the force required to provide the resources and support needed through government will manifest. The global examples of swift and unprecedented changes can be used in our favor.

The seeds are then planted to show what being “pro-life” really means and share it with the world.

Life is not to be celebrated at fertilization and then forgotten. Life is to be honored at every moment. If people are robbed of the opportunity to be housed, fed, provided health care, to be safe, to be connected to culture and family, and to be educated appropriately, then their life is less. No life deserves to be less.

This includes non-human life, which can also be our kin, and which can also be cared for in radical new ways as demonstrated during the pandemic.

Anyone with the desire for human flourishing can participate in this “new” adoption. Those with million-dollar homes and $100k cars can, and must, contribute. The gains go not just to those who find themselves with new kin. What we give comes back in terms of our focus, our sense of meaning and purpose, of contribution, inspiration and legacy, and the creation of a better future.

The world has serious challenges, and a wicked arsenal at its disposal. Wars and pandemics always catch people off guard. Climate change, on the other hand, is launching flares every day and we choose to ignore them at our peril. Global correction and technical fixes will not save us.

We must mitigate or find ourselves overwhelmed and disempowered. We must, with great courage, stare down the illusion of power and leadership. This means acting out of love, compassion, and honesty, and generosity.

Neither capitalism nor democracy will save us. Recycling will not redeem us. But adoption might.

If we miss the opportunity to heal the humans who walk today, we may forever damn those who come after.

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Chris Turner  |  Contribution: 2,630