My Turn, Robert Houck: Everyone welcome?

Published 11:01 pm Sunday, February 5, 2017

By Robert Houck

Special to the Salisbury Post

This morning I had to go to China Grove and came out Patterson Street which goes right in front of South Rowan High School. As I passed the school, I noticed that the electronic marquee had the words, “Everyone Welcome.” As I watched, the display changed to the time of day and then I had passed the school and was on my way back home.

As I drove on, I could not get those words out of my mind. In all honestly, I did not stop to watch the marquee change the display to see if there were more to the message than the simple words “Everyone Welcome” so I don’t know if I were simply seeing part of some greater and more profound thought. However, in the context of the constant bombardment of news last weekend, those words made me stop and think.

I have a high regard for history, so I thought of the history of our country. Yes we have been welcoming to people of all other countries, but we need to remember that one of the acts of the English that so enraged our patriots was the forced quartering of British soldiers in the private homes and at the expense of private citizens of this country. This act became a highly odious and emotionally charged issue to all the citizens of our country. It became one of the reasons that British citizens lost their welcome in our colonies.

I heard this morning on the news a cacophony of voices of celebrities who expressed their openness and love for everyone to come to our country. I find this an ironic attitude for people who live in highly protected, gated communities with armed guards. I doubt that any of these celebrities allow just anyone to come to their homes without a vetting process just as any of us would not invite anyone into our homes without knowing who they are or what they planned to do (friend or repairman). Why should we then expect less of our country?

I do not know the leadership at South Rowan High, but I can guarantee that not everyone is welcome there. There are rules and procedures in place for screening every person who is not a student, teacher or support staff before they are allowed to go anywhere beyond the school entrance. Even the teachers and support staff go through a “vetting” process before they are allowed to work with or around our children. Why then would the leadership allow any kind of indication that everyone is welcome at their school?

I can only guess that it must be the emotional argument that is causing people to ignore the rational. I heard House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi talking about the “women and children” who were being discriminated against in the vetting process. She ignores the statistics from Germany, France, Belgium and other European countries as well as the applications by Syrian refugees to our own country that young men outnumber women and children by almost 3 to 1. (I do know that the State Department figures as of August 2016 claim that women and children actually admitted to our country account for about 78 percent of the refugees from Syria.)

Pelosi also seems to want to ignore plain statements by ISIS and other radical Islamist groups that they are sending their fighters to attack our country. Personally, I would really like to know just who we are welcoming here. What is their background and why are they really wanting to come to America?

I make no apologies for harkening back to the Apostle John, also known as the apostle whom Jesus loved. In his three epistles (First, Second, and Third John), he talks about the balance of truth and love. In Second John, he admonishes a beloved lady for showing love over truth by welcoming everyone into her house and giving them her hospitality, even those who were lying about being ministers of the Gospel. Of course, in the first century, motels were few and far between and finding even a McDonald’s was a challenge. The standards of hospitality demanded the entertaining of strangers in private homes. However, no one opened their home or provided hospitality indiscriminately, and that was one of John’s points in writing this letter.

In conclusion, I would say, “Yes, potentially, everyone is welcome. But, practically, there must be a method of discerning among the ‘everyone’ so that people who harbor ill will against the citizens of our country should be excluded.”

Robert Houck lives in Mount Ulla.