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Few issues in the past year have been as polarizing as the Syrian refugee crisis.

Millions of people displaced by the Syrian civil war have been traveling to the European Union seeking asylum. In some countries, they were welcomed with open arms and recognized as helpless victims of political turmoil happening in their homelands. In other countries, they are treated, essentially, as ISIS until proven otherwise.


Thousands of migrants and refugees, stranded by the Balkan border blockade, have set up a makeshift camp in Idomeni, Greece. Photo by Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images.

After the terrorist attacks in France, Muslim refugees who had barely just arrived immediately faced the stigma of terrorism unfairly attached to their religion. After the attack at the Brussels airport, leading GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump doubled down on his infamous call to ban Muslims from entering the United States for fear that Islamic terrorism would cross our borders and threaten our security.

Muslims all over the world face prejudice and political turmoil simply for being Muslim, which is difficult even if you're not desperately fleeing from your home country.

In America, the Mormon church is making a dedicated effort to welcome refugees with kindness and compassion.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (also known as Mormonism) was founded in the 1800s with the belief that it was a restoration of the original church of Jesus Christ. There are over 15 million Mormons and the church is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States.

Mormons believe, more than anything, in sticking to the exact teachings of Jesus Christ, which mostly involved things like being kind to other people and having empathy for strangers. Teachings that — when it comes to the treatment and rejection of Muslim refugees — often seem to get ironically lost.

Through a new campaign called I Was a Stranger, the church is encouraging Mormons to help refugees get settled in their new neighborhoods.

"Look around your neighborhood, school, workplace, andother places you frequent for those who might need your help and love," say the campaign's guiding principles. After all, in the Bible, according to the Gospel of St. Matthew, "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in."

The I Was a Stranger initiative asks Mormon women (due to their more traditional roles in Mormon communities) to simply offer what they can, whether it be a meal, a place to stay, or even a simple act of friendship. The campaign encourages LDS members to have empathy for the difficult journey refugees take to get to their new lives, as well as for the culture shock many refugees experience, and to use that empathy to be kind and loving to refugees as they build their lives anew.

The campaign even set up a hotline in the United States for people to call and learnabout opportunities to serve refugees in their communities.


While based strongly in the teachings of Jesus, the I Was a Stranger initiative reaches across religious barriers to spread a message of hope.

Regardless of faith, when people reach out to help others and build community, that's a pretty inspiring thing. In a time when religion is often used to divide people and turn them against each other, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' decision to help all people, regardless of religion, just goes to show how religion can be used for good to make the world a better place for everyone.

A Kurdish mother and son in a refugee camp in Turkey. Photo by Gokhan Sahin/Getty Images.

At the end of the day, we all have a lot more in common with each other than we think; we all want a happy and safe life for ourselves and our families, and we all want to be treated fairly.

"Do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbors who are near, neighbors who are strangers, the companion by your side."

Sounds like a Bible verse, right?

It's actually from the Quran.

True

Innovation is awesome, right? I mean, it gave us the internet!

However, there is always a price to pay for modernization, and in this case, it’s in the form of digital eye strain, a group of vision problems that can pop up after as little as two hours of looking at a screen. Some of the symptoms are tired and/or dry eyes, headaches, blurred vision, and neck and shoulder pain1. Ouch!

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popular

Artist captures how strangers react to her body in public and it's fascinating

Haley Morris-Cafiero's photos might make you rethink how you look at people.

Credit: Haley Morris-Cafiero

Artist Haley Morris-Cafiero describes herself on her website as "part performer, part artist, part provocateur, part spectator." Her recent project, titled "Wait Watchers" has elements of all her self-descriptors.

In an email to us, Morris-Cafiero explained that she set up a camera in the street and stood in front of it, doing mundane activities like looking at a map or eating gelato. While she's standing there she sets off her camera, taking hundreds of photos.

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via Co-Op and Pixabay

Co-op CEO Shirine Khoury-Haq.

The CEO of Co-op, one of the UK’s largest supermarket chains has made an important statement about excess at a time when many families are struggling in the UK.

The Daily Mail reports that Shirine Khoury-Haq, the head of a company with over 3900 retail locations says she’s giving her twin, six-year-old daughters one present each this Christmas because she could not “in good conscience” give them more while millions of families struggle with inflation and high energy prices.

Khoury-Haq makes over £1 million ($1,190,000) a year after bonuses, so she pledged to give her family's present money to those in need. “It just feels like excess, given what’s happening in the world. In good conscience, I can’t do that in my own home,” Khoury-Haq said according to The Guardian.

“The rest of our budget will be given to Santa to provide presents for children whose parents can’t contribute to the elves,” she continued. “We’re going to go out shopping for those other presents and [we will] send them to Santa.”

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Pop Culture

Someone asked strangers online to share life's essential lessons. Here are the 17 best.

There's a bit of advice here for everyone—from financial wisdom to mental health tips.

Photo by Miguel Bruna on Unsplash

Failure is a great teacher.

It’s true that life never gets easier, and we only get continuously better at our lives. Childhood’s lessons are simple—this is how you color in the lines, 2 + 2 = 4, brush your teeth twice a day, etc. As we get older, lessons keep coming, and though they might still remain simple in their message, truly understanding them can be difficult. Often we learn the hard way.

The good news is, the “hard way” is indeed a great teacher. Learning the hard way often involves struggle, mistakes and failure. While these feelings are undeniably uncomfortable, being patient and persistent enough to move through them often leaves us not only wiser in having gained the lesson, but more confident, assured and emotionally resilient. If that’s not growth, I don’t know what is.

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Democracy

Cuban immigrant’s reaction to getting his first American paycheck has gone viral

Before coming to the U.S. last year, Diaz made $12 a month as a computer science teacher in Cuba.

The Cuban and American flags.

An Instagram post featuring Yoel Diaz, a recent Cuban immigrant, is going viral because it shows a powerful example of something many of us in America take for granted. The freedom to earn a paycheck for a day of honest labor.

In the video, Diaz is ecstatic after he opens his first paycheck after getting a job as a seasonal worker for UPS. CBS reports that before coming to the U.S. last year, Diaz made $12 a month as a computer science teacher in Cuba.

"This is my first hourly paycheck that I feel every hour counted," he told CBS News. "That every hour of work has importance in my life and that I know I can work hard for something. I can't compare that emotion with anything. Because I never had that in my country."

The new job was a big change from life in Cuba where he had trouble filling his refrigerator. He told CBS News that sometimes he only had two items: "Water, water, water, five, ten eggs, water."

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