I have a sense of déjà vu. I remember the last time the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan. It was 1996, and the country had been in a state of civil war for twenty years. At the time I felt relieved, thinking that any kind of rule is better than interminable conflict. Twenty-five years later they have regained power, and once again Afghanistan faces an impossible choice – continued fighting or an extremist dictatorship.
There will no doubt be large numbers of refugees fleeing Afghanistan soon. I hope and pray they are granted asylum in other countries. I hope the burden of looking after them does not fall disproportionately on other countries in that region – Iran, Pakistan, Uzbekistan. I hope we who live in richer Western countries will realise that we can afford to help more than Afghanistan’s neighbours can. I hope the media reminds us of the truth: that far more refugees live in countries such as Pakistan and Turkey than live in countries such as Germany and Finland. That there is indeed plenty of room, and resources for them here. I hope extremist political parties will for once tell these truths, too.
Ordinary people cannot solve the world’s geopolitical problems, but we can all help financially. Christians have a duty to help those in need, as do Muslims, for that matter. At times such as these it is well to reread the parable of the Good Samaritan. The Samaritan simply helped the injured man; he didn’t ask questions, nor did he wait for somebody else to help. Let us remember that Jesus and the Holy Family were once refugees, too, forced to flee to Egypt to escape Herod’s persecution. Let us also remember Jesus’s words at the end of the parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Matt. 25: 31-40): ” ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ ”