"All of this has deeply disturbing echoes of the dark days of the 1930s."
With Christmas just days away Charles, the prince of Wales, appeared on BBC Radio 4 to deliver a holiday-inspired "thought for the day" that came with a dire warning about the state of world politics.
The Christmas story — the Nativity story — is in many ways a story about a family fleeing religious persecution; it's a story about refugees. While it's easy for that portion to get overshadowed by things like angels, virgin births, wise men, and mangers, Prince Charles thought it appropriate in our current political climate to draw attention to the holy family's refugee status.
Prince Charles described a conversation he had recently with a Jesuit priest in Syria and how it reminded him that religious persecution is not limited to faraway lands.
Even as people flee lands in which their lives are put on the line due to religious persecution, the world political climate is making it harder for would-be refugees to find safety and acceptance anywhere.
"We are now seeing the rise of many populist groups across the world that are increasingly aggressive towards those who adhere to a minority faith."
— Prince Charles
"The suffering doesn’t end when [refugees] arrive seeking refuge in a foreign land," he said. "We are now seeing the rise of many populist groups across the world that are increasingly aggressive towards those who adhere to a minority faith."
"All of this has deeply disturbing echoes of the dark days of the 1930s," Charles said.
He invoked his own memories of growing up in post-World War II Europe as a reminder that we can't let a fear of people who are different from us lead us back down that dark road.
"I was born in 1948 — just after the end of World War II, in which my parents' generation had fought and died in a battle against intolerance, monstrous extremism, and an inhuman attempt to exterminate the Jewish population of Europe," he recalled. "That, nearly 70 years later, we should still be seeing such evil persecution is, to me, beyond all belief. We owe it to those who suffered and died so horribly not to repeat the horrors of the past."
Whether you're Christian, Muslim, Jewish, or something else entirely, there's a deeper human message we can and should take away from this particular story: respecting and valuing others.
We can fight back against the impulse to close off people who don't look like us, think like us, pray like us, eat like us, date like us, and so on. We can fight back against the popularity of far-right isolationist policies. We can value the humanity of all, and if Christmas is what it takes to inspire that within us, then so be it.
Watch a portion of Price Charles' speech below, and check out the full transcript at the BBC website:
The Prince of Wales delivers his Thought for the Day
"Whichever religious path we follow, the destination is the same: to value and respect the other person, accepting their right to live out their peaceful response to the love of God. That’s what I saw when attending the consecration of the Syriac Orthodox Cathedral in London recently. Here were a people persecuted for their religion in their own country, but finding refuge in another land and freedom to practice their faith according to their conscience. It is an example to inspire us all this Christmas time."The Prince of Wales delivers his Thought for the Day.Posted by BBC Radio 4 on Thursday, December 22, 2016