By Kimberly Smith.
“Evidence suggests that this optimism owes more to government hype than reality.” This statement could easily be from any mainstream media source accurately covering U.S. politics or our current electoral posturing. In this case, however, it happens to be from a report on the government of Nigeria whose corruption, including of U.S. funds, leaves innocent women and children vulnerable to the world’s most deadly terrorist group, Boko Haram.
In a one-week spree, Boko Haram committed mass murder in at least three separate locations. The most recent brutality left 86 known dead, including many children who Boko Haram burned alive.
Amidst humanitarian expert reports warning that, “Mass returns [of IPDs] could be like red rags to a bull,” President Muhammadu Buhari continues to threaten more than 2 million of his own citizens to forcibly move directly into the literal fire zone of the ISIS-aligned faction Boko Haram. He does this in order to continue to receive U.S. and other foreign sources of funding by trying to prove they are in control of Boko Haram. This is not new policy for President Buhari, whose administration has long been under international scrutiny for thousands of summary executions and deliberate starvation of his own people by Nigerian military forces.
Inundated with U.S. government rhetoric, most of us believe ISIS to be the world’s greatest threat. In fact, in 2015 Boko Haram surpassed ISIS in terrorism murders. It might help us to discover the truth behind terrorism—and what action to take, or stop taking—if we dare to follow the trove of gold amassed by those riding the anti-terrorism wheel of fortune.
Please don’t mistake me. I am not saying terrorism is not a problem. I am saying that our government assumes we are fairly stupid and tries to keep it simple for us. It tells us we have one common enemy who can be defeated, just like Nigeria’s government is saying through their own government hype. Instead, I’d like all the facts. Furthermore, I’d like to be invited to the Big People’s Table where we discuss the complexities of our problems. I’d like to explore new ways of approaching these complex problems, which our simple methods of “hide and control” have failed to solve, even if it calls on me to make personal sacrifices that I’m not too excited about.
It would be easier—for a time—to push the murder of nameless children to the backs of our minds, and only focus on the beaming faces or crying voices of our own. Still, I’m wondering if it’s wise to discount the world’s deadliest terrorist group who rapes and murders just because it can, with no real goal in mind other than exercising its will. Boko Haram is now credited with murdering more than 20,000 innocent civilians and sending more than 2,000,000 on the run, leaving behind everything they’ve worked their whole lives for inside their burning homes.At least 86 bodies have been discovered from their third attack of the week, which was launched by three female suicide bombers.
Horrifying testimonies from young girls who escaped after the infamous 2014 Chibok abductions cause one to shudder with the realization that these “suicide girls” were surely abductees brainwashed, raped, and forced to participate in the atrocities of murdering other children. Do we think that the world’s most deadly terrorist group is going to remain satisfied with conquering Nigeria? They have already spread to four African countries. How long before they will be on our soil, taking our daughters?
When I was growing up, my family had no particular faith or form of worship. My parents’ doctrine was something akin to, “Do your own part, help others along the way, and together we’ll make it through.” Seemingly not very deep or theological. Certainly simple. Yet, a recent TIME Magazine article got me to thinking.
An article titled The Science of Mob Aggression from the Feb. 8, 2016 TIME issue states, “Being part of a group changes how people think and behave. …for example, [it] can drive athletes to push their physical limits. But crowds can also be dangerous, in part because they promote a so-called mob mentality…Sometimes, they may even commit wrongdoing knowingly to seek the approval of those around them.”
Science has proven the writers of the TIME article to be correct. People certainly have a “sheepish” nature. We find safety in running with the herd. Maybe that’s not all bad. What if we used that herd mentality for the good of humanity by taking personal, communal, and governmental responsibility to elevate our levels of responsibility, equanimity, and compassion? Might not the mentality of “mob aggression” work as positively as science has proven it does negatively?
How might we be the leaders our forefathers intended us to be by setting the example for the “herd” of the world to follow, setting the pace toward liberty, justice, and freedom for all? History tells us George Washington didn’t give a hoot about becoming president. What he wanted was a place for humanity to exist in freedom, justice, and liberty. He didn’t have a face stamped on a coin to signify who that freedom, justice, and liberty was for; it was an inclusive dream for all of mankind that started under his feet, climbed up his back, and stretched out his hands. He accepted the call to live it out, and his actions continue to invite us to do the same today for all peoples, especially those whose faces will never be stamped on a coin.
My parents’ version of faith, “Do your own part, help others along the way, and together we’ll make it through,” isn’t some feel-good or even do-good malarkey. It just might be the very sort of faith that can save our own nation, if we’re willing to help our global brothers and sisters who burn under the flame of the world’s deadliest terrorist group today—even as that same militia hones their skills to move Westward.
Kimberly L. Smith is the president of Make Way Partners, the only indigenously operated relief organization in [North] Sudan and South Sudan providing anti-trafficking efforts to the most vulnerable orphans and former slaves. Smith is also the author of the award-winning book Passport through Darkness, which chronicles much of her experience in Sudan. For more information on Kimberly L. Smith and Make Way Partners, please visit www.makewaypartners.org.
Image courtesy of chrupka at Shutterstock.