Tidings of Comfort and Joy

My Mother and I have a tradition of going to the Gothenburg Cathedral at Christmas. The choirs in the region compete to participate at the concert "Julsång i City" and this time there were at least ten of them present. The biggest choir was of course the congregation and we sang christmas carols from all over the world.

The concert host was the previous dean of the Skara Cathedral Bo Eek. He reminded us that the Swedish word "främmande" both means visiting friends and people we don't know. This is similar to the Greek word "xenos", found in the concept "xenophobia". He gave a very clear message to the unfortunately growing racist party Sverigedemokraterna that we have a responsibility as one of the richest countries in the world to help refugees. 

This help can take many forms. Some people give money directly to people begging on the street. Others give to organisations such as Göteborgs Stadsmission who provides shelter and food. Some, like Matteuskyrkan provide daycare for the children, while the parents try to find work and money having come to Sweden in search of a better life for their family. Myself, I donate money to SAM-hjälp who focus on helping children and families in Eastern Europe. 

According to the UN, more than 43 million people worldwide are now forcibly displaced as a result of conflict and persecution. This is he highest number since the mid-1990s. More than 15 million are refugees who fled their home countries, while another 27 million are people who remain displaced by conflict within their own homelands. Children constitute about 41 percent of the world’s refugees, and about two-thirds of the world’s refugees have been in exile for more than five years, many of them with no end in sight. Four-fifths of all refugees are in the developing world, in nations that can least afford to host them.

If you are strong, you have an obligation to help those who are not so fortunate. One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself. The Golden Rule can be found everywhere: in all the major international religions, in Astrid Lindgren's Pippi Longstocking, in the comic books about Bamse, in the doctrine on social justice by political philosopher John Rawls.

In his new book, researcher/author Stefan Einhorn claims that our modern deadly sins are the following (at least in Scandinavia): Dishonesty, Hate, Ruthlessness, Bullying, Narrow-mindedness, Xenophobia and Greed. The latter being the only one left from the original list.

Being an atheist, I don't think the potential wrath of God should be a driving force in this matter. My parents taught me to be nice to other people no matter where they come from or their situation in life. Anything else would simply be mean.

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