National Geographic gives a brief description of this little-known militant group; that is, little known until it claimed responsibility for kidnapping nearly 300 school girls, threatening to sell them off as sex slaves or marry them off as child brides.
I'm as enraged as you are, but militant groups are easy to hate. It's easy to simply hate Boko Haram, and use that hatred to fuel our response. But instead of being a stereotype, Boko Haram has reasons (100% unjustified in kidnapping and abusing little girls) for lashing out against Nigerians. National Geographic reports:
Bad governance, corruption, persistent economic hardship, and rising inequality have fostered the growth of radical extremist groups. A Nigerian bishop characterized Boko Haram as "a resistance movement against misrule rather than a purely Islamic group…The group doesn't distinguish between Christians and Muslims in its attacks." (Heidi Schultz).
How many times have we seen extremism rise out of poverty, hunger, desparation, corruption and evil? Too many times to count throughout human history. The article reports of the almost phobic spiritual fear of Boko Haram that exists in Nigeria now. Instead of creating change for the better in their country, members of Boko Haram have succeeded in dominating, corrupting, killing and violating. Hunger remains, poverty remains, and desparation remains.
I am not a Nigerian mother.
I do not know or truly understand the terror, grief and anguish a Nigerian mother is living with right now, knowing her daughter(s) is being brutalized by shadows in the night.
I do stand with the people of Nigeria, demanding the safe return of each and every girl taken. I do demand that the leaders of Boko Haram be brought to swift justice.
But… we have seen how desparate people in desperate circumstances have risen up with guns, violence and power only to cause further death and destruction. Are we to do the same? How is Canada different if we choose to carry arms to end violence?
Yes… some of you are choking right now. How dare I compare Canada to a militia group!
How often have we inserted ourselves into armed conflicts, destroyed civilians' lives, or in other ways justified our own violence to protect our interests? I want thoses girls returned safely as badly as anyone else in the world, but if we choose to kill to stop the killing we demonstrate how we are the same as those we are trying to stop.
Loosen the tongue in my mouth
It refuses to speak peace over Boko Haram
My eyes refuse to see it for anything more than a group of monsters
Grown men snatching innocents from their beds deserve to die
Shot on sight
Why pray for them?
Why even try to give anything other than hate?
We are justified, Jesus
We are justified in bringing these men before the world & stringing them up
injecting them with poisons
and we can call upon Your deliverance to release the captives, and condemn the wicked
Shalom never comes at point of gun
You embraced your enemies
Ate with them
Prayed for them
… even kissed them
You lived a life that astonished all: peace in action can demolish strongholds
Darkness is driven out
driven to the ends of the earth and beyond
and our blindness clears to Your reality of redemption
as much as I want to take military action myself,
I know this is not who You are
I know this would be a disobedient act of mistrust against You,
relying on my own bullets
to make myself feel honoured to have slain the enemy,
I know this would be a sneering choice to hate my enemies instead of love them
or to seek the peace of Your world, on earth as it is in heaven
I seek no reason for You to set a table for us to eat at amidst our enemies.
I am too scared You would dare invite them to share a meal, too angry, too determined I have some God-given right to kill for reasons I alone declare are just
Perhaps that is the greatest battle of all: our anger transforming into bloodlust,
never letting the violence to die
never allowing peace to surplant our own cockeyed version of justice
Scatter our mob mentality… to the wind and further still
Replace our reach of gun with reach of hand-in-hand
Replace our desire for death with desire for life
And as we walk forward in this new truth of peace,
bring our girls home
bring them home
… while you're at it…
bring these little boys home too.
Can't say "I love you" just yet, but You can. You have. You will.
Redemptive violence redeems itself alone. And then breeds.
You have redeemed the entire world.
May we embrace You… before we embrace our own righetousness again, buried in the barrels of guns.
Bring us home.