Fences are incredibly common in Hungary. Nearly every house has a fence with a well secured gate around it. Here fences are used to keep some people in and other people out. In the past 2 months, I’ve seen two fences built before my eyes.
This past October, I traveled to Zákány, Hungary and observed weary migrants as they crossed the border from Croatia into Hungary. When we arrived, the military was constructing a towering chain link and razor wire fence. I heard the rumble of the truck, the ping of the nail gun and the groans of hard working men and women. Clearly, this fence was designed to keep people out. Yet that day, an opening was left in the fence. After the day turned to night, I watched men, women and children walk a well worn path through that opening, then they lined up like cattle, to be boarded onto a train. The joy and weariness was evident in their eyes. Men in wheelchairs, babies swaddled in their parent’s arms, children smiling in the midst of exhaustion. But they were soon to be on a train to a new life. They were moving from a place where they were afraid to live. With the hopes of being integrated into a new life.
While many refugees are moving from a life full of fear, they are moving into a place where their presence is now inciting fear. This is the second fence I’ve seen built, it’s a fence built with fear. It’s not something that you tangibly see, but it is dividing. Today, our words which are magnified and displayed for the world to see on social media are often being published without much thought given to the repercussions. The desire for comfort is often manifest in fear. Likely because we don’t know how else to respond. I want to live a nice life so I best pad my retirement account rather than be generous… I want to maintain my friendships so I won’t call you out on gluttony… I want to be safe, so I’m not going to let anyone new inside my fence. This fear has an opportunity to be more lethal than any razor wire fence being built, and has the potential to divide. It’s shrewd, because most of the time we don’t recognise it’s it is growing.
If you know me personally, I’m not one for politics so I’m not going there. But what I can’t ignore is sharing the strain I’ve seen in friends arguing over this issue. It’s a bit more “real” to me here because I’ve seen snippets of their trek with my own eyes, I’ve heard heart breaking stories and recognise it’s only a portion. Do we know intentions of others? Certainly not, and honestly, I don’t even know my own intentions half the time.
But here’s the deal, there is one call: love. What does love look like? If someone is hungry, you give them food. Thirsty? Give them water. Naked? Share clothes. And you know what, I believe “perfect love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:12) So, dear friends, let’s let go of fear, and embrace love. The world is changing and we can stand by and watch it change or we can be a part of transforming lives. We build fences to keep people out, but what if we let them in?