Let’s Be Honest About Refugees: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

In the wake of the recent attacks in Paris attributed to ISIS, the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis has come front and center, once again, and the debate is getting rather messy.

In one corner, you have the conservative view that NO refugees should be let into Western countries — you know, like the view of Donald Trump or any one of the Republican governors in the U.S. who have said they don’t want refugees in their states. They cite security concerns as their primary reason, although xenophobia and anti-Muslim sentiment tends to run through the rhetoric.

In the other corner, you have people on Facebook posting pictures of crying children with bombs going off behind them, with a “Think about the children!” well-meaning guilt trip approach to the refugee crisis. Apparently, the refugees are either all terrorists, or they are all innocent, cherub face children who are going to come into our countries and charm the pants off of everyone.

Let’s be real, shall we. Neither side here is right. Let’s not demonize all the refugees, but let’s not sugar coat this. The acceptance of refugees means accepting the good, the bad and the ugly, like it or not

There will be people who come into our countries, cities and communities who will bring important skills. There will be doctors, lawyers, teachers, scholars, nurses, artists, writers, and the list goes on. There will be people that will come, invest in our communities, start new businesses, provide jobs and contribute to our economic growth. We will share schools, restaurants, shopping malls, and there will be no problems. We will learn from the new people in our communities. We will broaden our horizons by experiencing what the refugees have to bring. With some (maybe even most) of the refugees we will benefit immensely.

And then there will be some refugees who come in to our countries who may be unsavory. There might be robbers, there might be swindlers, there may be domestic abusers, there may be gangsters, there may be people with extreme views, there may be people who will abuse whatever system they can, there may be refugees who will not want to mingle with people outside their new communities, who will not try to learn the language, who might be trouble makers, and the list goes on.

But, honestly, isn’t that what humans are. We are diverse. We are all good, bad and ugly. Any collective group of people will be that way, and everyone has to understand this.

In the end, here is the reality. We have people who are fleeing countries like Syria, which has been imploding for almost five years now. Between ISIS chopping people’s heads off and Bashar Al Assad dropping barrel bombs and using chemical weapons on his own people, a weary population is fleeing from the devastation, looking for hope.

Yes, there are going to be some risks when bringing any large group of people into a country. But they are risks that should be accepted in order to show our humanity and make sure the most vulnerable people in this refugee crisis are helped. Bringing refugees into Western countries is not going to be easy, just as it has not been easy for countries like Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon that are flooded with millions of people seeing shelter from war.

There are going to be immense challenges with opening doors to refugees. Europe, especially, is experiencing a massive learning curve, and going through a number of growing pains. A country like Germany, that is expected to absorb almost a million and a half refugees by the end of the year, is not going to have it easy. There have already been problems with fighting in refugee camps and having to separate people from different countries or religious sects to keep the peace. Not to mention the stress on infrastructure, like housing and schools.

But, what is the alternative? Is watching the refugees die really something any of us wants to do? Are we all willing to sit by while so many people suffer? As long as we say that we won’t accept refugees, that’s basically what we are doing. And that doesn’t seem like a decent alternative. That seems more like cruelty.

When it comes to refugees we should not live under any delusions. Not all refugees are bad. But, no, not all refugees are good, either. There truly is going to be the good, bad and the ugly within the refugee population. It is a risk to let a large number of refugees into a country, but it is a risk that needs to be taken for the good of humanity.

[Feature image Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images]