Tuesday, March 9, 2010

What will you do if...?


This was the caption beside the two photos above. I’m making no apologies for publishing them or for offending your sensibilities. These are the realities in which our world is embroiled. While we live sheltered lives in our comfortable homes, with the weather being the greatest threat to our comfortable western lifestyles, much of the world is being ravaged by earthquakes (three in the last month, with the Chile earthquake registering as the third most powerful in recorded history), and people are being slaughtered for simply professing to be Christians. For all its barbarism, we might as well be back in the dark ages and the Spanish Inquisitions, or in the Coliseums of Rome!

The Middle belt of Nigeria has always been a volatile hotspot for unbridled religious fervor and intolerance. These precious souls being randomly slaughtered were also created by the hands of a loving God, yet their senseless deaths will go unheralded and may not even warrant a mention in the late night news in the Western hemisphere. You see, the West has nothing to lose by standing on the sidelines and letting this crisis play itself out. If you’re a praying person, then Nigeria needs your prayers now. We have a dying president, an ailing economy, an impotent legislature, and a religious crisis all wreaking wanton havoc on our beleaguered nation all at the same time. More than just your prayers though, Nigeria needs the collective voice of the nations to stand up and speak against these atrocities.

If we don’t draw attention to the evil that is being perpetrated, we might as well be willing participants. The needless pain and devastation of the Rwandan genocide isn’t that distant of a memory. Let’s not allow another such scenario again on our watch. Let’s be a voice and a resistant force to the needless and senseless violence that is so blinded by hate and intolerance that it cannot distinguish between militant opposition and an innocent child. Will you be a part of the solution? If so you can begin by copying this to your twitter account, or linking it to your Facebook or your blog. Imagine what could begin to happen if millions joined forces and began to act?!


Rob said...

This is heart-wrenching and horrible.

Atrocities like this can only be committed in the name of a god or some other absolutely held and "ultimate" abstraction; they cannot be done in the name of humanity!

Prayers are useless. If there is a god, then he, she or it does not know, does not care, or does not intervene due to some inability to do so. I think the truth is that we are on our own, without any superhuman parent in the sky to cry out to. This means we must rely on one another, and the hands that help are better than lips that pray.

How much more vital is it, then, for all of us (regardless of what we might imagine or speculate about angels, demons and other invisible aliens) to join forces to make it possible for us to do what has to be done to keep this horrific, tragic yes preventable violence from happening over and over again?

Let there be doubt! For these atrocities and brutal murders were orchestrated by those who feel absolutely certain.

Joseph said...

Rob, my friend! I hear the passion in your voice as well as the anger at such atrocities, but the anger is quite frankly misdirected.

You seem to hold God responsible for the choices of men. If God forced us to all live a certain way then that would negate free-will and consequently love. Love by definition requires free-will choice.

Men are solely responsible for the choices that we make not God. He sovereignly chooses the way and the time in which He interacts with us not based on a reaction to our circumstances (because our circumstances didn't take Him by surprise), but based on a knowledge of His purpose and ultimate plan that far surpasses our understanding. ... See More

When you read a book or watch a movie, you don't quit reading or watching because difficult times prevail, you keep reading until the next chapter when the protagonist is finally victorious. We may not fully grasp what ultimate good can come out of this, but it always does.

There are those of us who not only believe in prayer, but have seen its efficacious work on behalf of myriad people around the globe. Praying does not discount the fact that we need to act, as you will notice I stated in my post. I'll let you know what practical steps are being taken so you can get involved.

Rob said...

Thank you, Joseph. Let me try to clarify by saying my horror is directly related to the reality of this evil situation.

I'm more disturbed and saddened than angry.

Still, I certainly have the potential for anger here. We ought to be angry, provided we are not ruled by that anger. Nor is this feeling properly directed at any gods. No one to my knowledge (and this includes me) has suggested that a god descended on Nigeria to torture and kill people. As you know, I don't even believe in gods to begin with, seeing them all as indistinguishable from figments of imagination. The logical implication of this (which is obvious to me, but may not be as clear to others accustomed to a different worldview) is that I could no more be angry with a god than I could be angry with a leprechaun. They are not real to me.

The tragedy itself is real enough. This is awful. I can hardly imagine the suffering that these people endured, and that their surviving friends and families are going to have to live with now. If there is credit or blame to be found in the situation, I look to things for which I have solid evidence. Here, I would be inclined to blame both those who actually committed these atrocities and also those who malignantly conspired to plan them and who encouraged such vicious, deadly attacks.

Just as an aside, while I understand why believers may feel a need to "explain" the inaction of what I see as a purely hypothetical deity in cases like this, I am unencumbered by such theological difficulties and complications. I don't see the lives of real people in terms of being just characters in some divine book or heavenly film festival. That almost seems to trivialize their lives in a way I wouldn't dare to suggest. If it is all guaranteed to come out perfectly fine at the end, no matter what, then what would be the point of my caring?

Anyway, that's just my own personal position. I would never object to anyone else praying or knocking on wood or whatever, so long as they also make an effort to take action against violent extremism as well.

I share the desire to do something that could have tangible, positive results for the well-being of the families of these victims, and (perhaps even more importantly) for the prevention of escalating violence, angry retribution, and the perpetuation of hate. It is almost unfathomable to me how these acts could have occurred. Almost, I regret to say, because I've lived long enough and seen enough to know how strongly a person can believe he's doing something righteous and holy and necessary that ends up bringing only death and destruction.

What a terrible shame. I am truly dismayed by this example of how people who are in so many ways just like you and me can find themselves in the position of performing these acts. In a way, though I do not mean this to be construed as an excuse for their actions, they too are victims of an evil perpetuated upon them. It takes something awful to make one human being do this to another.

Joseph said...

Rob, I know you, and I know your passion for seeing people do the right thing. That's common ground for you and I. We are both patently aware of our very opposing worldviews with regard to God, Christianity and their direct impact in the affairs of humanity. We've agreed to disagree on this and so there's really very little profit in us rehashing those positions in the wake of such tremendous pain and suffering.

Let's rally together and focus on what we do agree on: These atrocities are inhumane, and, regardless of what wrongs may have been done to the perpetrators, there is no justification for their wanton and insane murder of innocent men, women, and children. Continue to monitor my FB page and you'll see what developments are occuring and how you can get involved. Thanks for your care and concern my friend.

Ronke Babalola said...

Oh my soul, my soul