Sunday, January 18, 2015

Boko Haram: Slavery, Death, and Love

Muslims are still upset about those 'Mohammed' cartoons in Charlie Hebdo.

That, I think, is understandable. Being upset is not an excuse for killing folks, though. (January 11, 2015)

I'm upset when my faith gets described as 'worshiping a cookie.' I was angry about a college professor's photo of a consecrated Host, a page from the Quran, and another book's page: treated as garbage. For that matter, I felt disgust when a preacher burned the Quran. (July 20, 2012; April 1, 2011; March 5, 2010)

Some of that comes from spending my youth in the '60s. When I became a Catholic, however, seeing humanity as one big family was no longer an option: it's a requirement. (Genesis 10:1-32; Catechism, 360, 396-409)

It's easy to demonize those who believe, act, or simply look, different. That doesn't make it right.

Charlie Hebdo, 20 Dead: Northeastern Nigeria, Thousands Dead

(From AP, via BBC News, used w/o permission.)
("Baga, seen here in April 2013, has been the scene of previous clashes between Boko Haram and the army"
(BBC News))

(From Digital Globe, via BBC News, used w/o permission.)
(Satellite images of Baga, a town in northeastern Nigeria, before and after a Boko Haram attack.)

The last time I counted, 20 folks died in the Charlie Hebdo offices, or as a result of that attack.

That's a tragic loss of life.

So, I think, are the recent deaths of 2,000 or so folks: killed by Boko Haram in Nigeria. (The Independent (UK) (January 11, 2015))

A key phrase there is "or so." Officials and others in Nigeria have earned a reputation for being — inaccurate, at best. (BBC News (January 13, 2015))

Boko Haram is an Islamic outfit: by their standards, anyway.

"Boko haram" means "Western education is forbidden" in Hausa. Boko Hamam opposed Western education, started military operations to create an Islamic state in 2009, and has killed thousands. The United States started calling Boko Haram a terrorist group in 2013. About 3,000,000 folks are affected by this lot. (BBC News)

Boko Haram achieved international fame last year, when they kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls from a Chibok boarding school.

Boko Haram's assertion that the girls were "war booty," and would be sold as slaves, may be a mistranslation. Even so, what happened was not good.

A Wikipedia page says that some of the girls were married to Boko Haram members — for a 'bride price' of 2,000 Nigerian niara a head. That's about $12.50 USD, or £7.50. (BBC News (November 14, 2014; May 20, 2014; May 12, 2014; May 15, 2013))

I'm angry about what Boko Haram does, and think what they are doing is very wrong. But I try to not hate them: and will not make claims about their souls. I really don't need that kind of trouble.

Love and Conscience

My faith's basics are simple: love God, love my neighbors, see everyone as my neighbor, and treat others as I'd like to be treated. (Matthew 5:43-44, 7:12, 22:36-40, Mark 12:28-31; Luke 6:31 10:25-27, 29-37; Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1789)

I don't have to like my neighbor: but hating a neighbor is not an option. (August 26, 2014; December 9, 2010)

Judging whether an act is good or bad is part of using my conscience: it's a basic requirement for being human. We're even expected to think about the actions of others. (Catechism, 1778, 2401-2449)

Maybe that sounds 'judgmental:' but I'm not loving my neighbor, if I see nothing wrong with someone stealing my neighbor's lawn mower: or selling my neighbor's child.

This isn't the 'my way or the highway' self-righteous attitude I occasionally run into. It's a matter of hating the sin, loving the sinner: and leaving the judging of persons to God. (Catechism, 1861)

Laws and customs are always changing. What doesn't change are the underlying ethical principles they reflect: or fail to follow. I've talked about law, positive and natural, before. (August 31, 2014; August 29, 2014)

'Loving my neighbor' has to matter. I'm expected to:
  • Support religious freedom
    (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2104-2109)
    • For everybody
      (Catechism, 2106)
  • Take an active part in public life
    (Catechism, 1915)
  • Contribute to the good of society
    • In a spirit of
      • Truth
      • Justice
      • Solidarity
      • Freedom
    (Catechism, 2239)
  • Submit to legitimate authorities
    • Refuse obedience to civil authorities
      • When their demands are contrary to those of an upright conscience
      (Catechism, 2242)
    (Catechism, 2239)
    (November 4, 2012)
I could be overwhelmed by guilt at the thought that I haven't ended poverty, cured cancer, and achieved a lasting peace in the Middle East.

I could also believe that I can "...leap tall buildings in a single bound..." — but that would be crazy.

Humility, Catholic style, is having a balanced view of my abilities: or lack of them, and that's another topic. (August 10, 2014)

Happily, I'm expected to do what I can: not what I can't.
"As far as possible citizens should take an active part in public life. The manner of this participation may vary from one country or culture to another...."
(Catechism, 1915) [emphasis mine]

Making Sense

(From From Buz lightning, via Wikimedia Commons, used w/o permission.)
("Branford Clarke illustration in The Ku Klux Klan In Prophecy 1925 by Bishop Alma White published by the Pillar of Fire Church in Zarephath, NJ"
(Wikimedia Commons))

Seeing folks who are different as a threat isn't unique to the Pillar of Fire Church in the 1920s.

I think it's involved in the "God Hates You" church's beliefs, the 2011 Norwegian mass murders, and folks who call Muslims "towelheads" — or blame Western civilization for the world's problems.

I'm also pretty sure that those folks aren't typical examples of Protestants, Norwegians, Americans, or whatever. (July 23, 2011; June 14, 2011)

I also think these folks make sense:
"...The birth of South Sudan was welcomed with high jubilations: mainly the years of slavery, persecution of Christians and oppression has gone, but also hopes of new beginning, of development and provision of essential services. In fact, the two Sudans and rest of the African nations are faced by enormous challenges such as nation building, healing wounds of our painful pasts and present, managing the expectations of our people, withstanding international investors who do not care about the safety and wellbeing of the local people...."
(Monsignor Edward Hilboro Kussala, Bishop of Tombura-Yambio (Sudan))

"...Despite the impression often given by the world media, I want to stress that Christians in Nigeria do not see themselves as being under any massive persecution by Muslims. Our population of about 160 million is made up of Christians and Muslims in equal number and influence. We have not done too badly in living peacefully together in the same nation. We believe we have learnt some lessons which may be useful for the rest of the world on Christian-Muslim relations...."
Monsignor John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan; Archbishop of Abuja, Nigeria

"...A more Nuanced perspective on the Boko Haram phenomenon in Nigeria:

"Interesting to note is the fact that not only Christians have lost their lives from the bombs and bullets unleashed by Boko Haram. But even a good number of Muslims too, as some statistical data show.

"It is not every Muslim who cherishes what Boko Haram is seeking to perpetuate in Nigerian.[!] Many admire the Christian virtues of Love and peace, which they claim are equally enshrined in the Koran.

"Many of our Muslim brothers and sisters long to convert to the Christian faith but cannot achieve this, for fear of losing their lives...."
Monsignor John Ebebe Ayah, Bishop of Ogoja (Nigeria)
("XIII Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops" (October7-28, 2012))

More recently, the Vatican's representative in Geneva talked about recent high-profile examples of slavery: and some that aren't so obvious. (Roman Curia (September 9, 2014))

Things Take Time

Slavery, treating others as if they're property, is a bad idea: and we shouldn't do it. (Catechism, 2414)

Expecting slavery to disappear overnight isn't reasonable.

After 19 centuries of passing along 'love God, love your neighbor, everyone's your neighbor: quite a few folks in some countries decided that owning other people was wrong. I'd be surprised — astounded — if everybody suddenly followed suit. (October 26, 2014; May 6, 2012)

Remarkably, western Africa's national leaders seem to be giving serious thought to working together to remove Boko Haram from their territories. And that's yet another topic.

Meanwhile, we'll keep passing along the best news humanity's ever had: that God loves us, and wants to adopt us: all of us. (John 3:17; Catechism, 52, 1825)

And that's yet again another topic. (November 16, 2014; August 5, 2011)

More about living in a big world:


nothingprofound said...

Another well-written, thoughtful and informative post. I especially liked this line: "Happily, I'm expected to do what I can: not what I can't." Much wisdom in that.

k said...

excellent post (as always).

Brian H. Gill said...

Thank you, Anon Ymous.

(That's a fine name, by the way. :) )

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