genocide. torture. denial of basic human rights based on gender, religion, nationality, perspective, et cetera.
Atrocities such as these are honestly not at the front of the mind of most Americans living comfortably in their 3 bedroom homes with their 2.5 children. and I’m not sure whether they should be or not, frankly. Because these things are disturbing, and I wouldn’t wish that kind of negativity on anyone. Unless maybe it was for a really good reason, and the disturbing thoughts wouldn’t last long. So I’ll make this bearably short, and you can read fast.
I want to introduce you to a friend of mine. I call him Ike. (Click on his name to meet him) He is a survivor of the modern day genocide being carried out against Christians by Muslim extremists in Nigeria. Nigeria isn’t the only place this kind of mass murder is happening, but it is the worst.
Genocide is usually a nasty scar in world history. Something we learn about from the past, and maybe even mourn, or in rare personal cases shed a tear over. We remember the horrors of the holocaust and other genocides and say “May it never happen again.” But today I had a very different experience.
I toured the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. with a survivor of a more modern genocide. I felt like I was emotionally prepared for the museum itself, but doing that with Ike, and with his energetic son, Little Ike — well — it almost too much. Because as we saw the horrid plight of the Jews in WWII times, he saw parts of his own life and the lives of his friends and family. Bodies strewn about; mass graves; vicious killers; a government sanctioning the murders and other governments turning a blind eye. This is not just history to Ike. It happened recently. He was shot in the head, himself.
What if I said Genocide is not just something we mourn, but something we can stop? Am I naive? Pie in the sky? I’m not sure. It’s happening now. Its not too late for some in Africa, that Boko Haram or the Fulanis haven’t yet reached. What if instead of simply mourning the past atrocities carried out by the Nazis against the Jews, or the Settlers against Native Americans, or Conquistadors against South Americans, we took action against what is happening in our modern world?
What if we convinced the U.S. government to stop selling fighter jets to Nigeria’s President Buhari, who himself is a Fulani? How about if we write letters to the White House, insisting that we sanction Nigeria as long as the government allows the killings to go unchecked, as we have imposed tariffs on other countries?
I may be crazy here, but I think it is time to change the present instead of simply mourning the past. And although some words, like Genocide, seem too big for any one person to deal with, I firmly believe there are more people against it than for it. But we have to get outside our own SUVs and big screen TVs long enough to send a postcard.
So the only remaining question is: does it bother us enough to do something? If not, perhaps we should also stop acting like those past genocides hurt our feelings so much. …. Sorry, did I get too personal?