I sometimes feel that I am a closeted agnostic. Being a student at a Christian-associated university and a former intern and new employee of a Catholic-based social service agency, I consistently feel the need to hide my true beliefs.
Over the past few eight years, I have been searching for what my beliefs are if they are not Christian. The conclusions that I have come to thus far is that rather than believing in a “God” or deity that provides help and comfort, I believe in humankind. As an African proverb tells us, “we are human because of other humans.” If we are defined as human only by the presence of other humans, then we are responsible for our fellow humankind. To me, there is no relationship that outweighs the importance of the human-to-human relationship.
How does this play out in my life? It means that I feel that it is my responsibility to help my fellow man or woman on the sole basis that they are a human being. I am proud to call myself a soon to be social worker. As a social worker, I strongly believe in one of the profession’s central values: the importance of human relationships. How can I help my clients without first recognizing the importance of my relationship with them? Any progress that may be made is impossible without first establishing a relationship with them.
I also believe that this means that we have the responsibility to protect other humans in the world when their rights and safety are threatened.
This is why I have dedicated my life to working with refugees, asylees, and victims of human trafficking. Many question why I choose to help people from other countries when there are so many Americans already here that need so much help. My answer is I view Americans and those from other countries the same, all as people, humans. I do this because I believe in people and I believe in the importance of building relationships with them. I do this because I do not believe in the imaginary lines and borders that were created to divide rather than untie us as human beings. I do this because, for me, I believe in reaching my hand to my fellow human in need rather than reaching my hand to a “God” or deity that I don’t feel present in my life.
And above all, I do this because it is when I am building this important relationship with my refugee and asylee clients that I am reminded what it means to be human.