Recently, I saw a news trend on my Facebook account. “Suicide bomber kills 16 people in Nigeria.”
For whatever reason, I clicked on it. And it only took seconds for me to be absolutely appalled. You see, the headline just made it sound like a “typical” suicide bomber. I assumed a man, maybe in his thirties or forties, from a radical religious or political group.
Holy cow, people, this was NOT who that was.
“A 10-year old girl killed 16 people in a suicide bombing in the northeastern Nigeria city of Damaturu on Sunday. The girl detonated her explosives next to a crowded market as shoppers were being screened by security services. According to the BBC, around 50 people were injured.”
She was a 10-year-old little girl.
My daughter is 6, but it is close enough to 10 to know that this is a child who deserved to be playing, skipping, hopping, riding bikes and going to school.
NOT being strapped down with explosives, with so much fear instilled in her, that she pulled the trigger.
I need you to see something for me. So often, we hear statistics, and ages, and we just let the fog of their anonymity cloud our hearts to protect us.
Can we all just let the fog lift for a moment?
This is my daughter, Maddy. She is 6 and a half, and she is precious, and she deserves a life.
Can you please picture in your mind my daughter’s face, picture her body strapped down with explosives? Can you imagine her terror?
Can you SEE with me that this 10-year-old is no less deserving of care, and protection, and LIFE than my own daughter is?
Can you please just imagine the last moment’s of this girl’s life with me? Can you feel her racing heart, and her trembling, fumbling hands? Can you smell the aromas of food wafting around her in the market place? The people shuffling by, boys and girls close to her age. Men and women. Who will it be, she wonders? Who will die, and who will make it?
Or perhaps she doesn’t even know. Does she understand what will happen when she pulls the trigger?
Was she kidnapped? Or had she grown up in this home, the one that filled her with a fear big enough she couldn’t run to authorities, couldn’t ask a grown-up for help, couldn’t say “no.”
Who was she? And truth be told, do we even care?
Also this week, a lion named Cecil was killed in Africa.
And the world went up in arms.
Admittedly, I didn’t care about the lion.
Maybe I would have cared more if days before I hadn’t read about a no-named 10-year-old African girl who had been murdered, and was forced to kill others in her murder, and was labeled as a suicide bomber. As though 10-year-old girls CHOOSE to be suicide bombers.
There was no war cry for justice. No demands for the name or face of the murderer.
Her life slipped from this world with a bang, and none of us paused long enough to notice.
Not a single person on my feed posted about the girl.
Not even me.
Last weekend, I watched a movie that changed me. It was The Woman in Gold.
It was a WWII movie … But unlike many Holocaust movies, this showed nothing of death camps, and families stripped naked, shivering and starving.
The terror in this movie actually sits far too close to home.
I think when we see humans stripped of their dignity to such an extent as the Nazis did the Jews, and is often portrayed in movies (shaving heads, separating families, taking away clothes, starving of food, and killing at random), it is so far outside our context of the world today, that we almost just stand back emotionally and watch.
We detach. We can’t relate.
It feels like that happened a million years ago.
But to watch The Woman in Gold is to see the Holocaust in a whole new light. To see the Holocaust as if it were happening to us, today. To our friends, our neighbors, our doctor, our lawyer.
I know that the Jews were targeted in the Holocaust. But until watching this movie, it never occurred to me to think about all the other non-Jews that neither contributed to the genocide, nor did they impede it.
THEY JUST SIMPLY STOOD BY AND WATCHED IT HAPPEN.
Maybe it was through propaganda, or political pressure, or the fear that something would happen to them and their own children.
But no matter what the excuse, their inaction really came down to “as long as it’s not happening to me and my family, I’m going to turn a blind eye.”
There was one scene … Just a blip really … Where a well-off father, mother and daughter were taken from their home. The mom was sobbing, and you just knew what was going to happen to this family.
That could have been us, people. It could have been us, having police come into our homes, take our children from us, and ultimately murder us. But by the grace of God, we were born decades later, or in a different part of the world.
Thank God this is not my reality. But at the end of the movie, I felt just like one of the non-Jews, burying my head in the sand. I know atrocities are around, and yet I am so insistent on keeping my own little world, my own little people safe, my own mental state happy and content that I willingly turn a blind eye.
Because as long as my people are safe, I shouldn’t let it affect me too much, right?
Also this week, an 8-year-old girl named Maddy was sexually assaulted, raped and murdered by a 15-year-old boy. She was lured into his family apartment while she was riding along on her scooter.
I have cried many tears this week for this girl I’ll never know.
And if there hasn’t already been enough horrific violence just this week, videos have come out showing the gruesome remains of aborted babies. I have watched a video of a baby’s severed hand laying on a Petri dish. And I want to say it was shocking, except it wasn’t.
Deep down, I want to be shocked, I want to be angrier at this loss of life, I want to be nauseous inside that this is happening.
Except I feel somewhat numb. As if it has already happened in my heart.
It is the thing that has happened to the Nazis and the non-Jewish people. The same thing that has happened to the men who strapped a 10-year-old child with explosives, forever labeling her a suicide bomber. The same thing that happened the 15-year-old boy that raped and murdered Maddy. The same thing that I see so much all around me, I’ve become numb to it.
The dehumanization of humans.
The belief that a person is nothing but an object, or a tool, for political propaganda. That women and men (and now girls and boys) have no rights to their own bodies … But they are merely objects to satisfy others.
The belief that humans are not really humans and deserving of all rights unless they are old enough, big enough, strong enough, the right color, the right gender, the right race, with the right abilities, and the right financial means in the right part of the world and on the right side of the womb. (And we must know them, or have some sort of connection to them, or at least be able to relate to them, right?)
Friends, the last thing in the world that I want to do is bury my head in the sand when 10-year-old girls are being murdered as political trump cards and 15-year-olds boys believe rape and murder of a child is OK. I don’t want to stand by numb. I don’t want to be so afraid of afraid of offending people when I say killing humans inside the womb is wrong.
I don’t want to look back on my life and say, “Oh my goodness. There was a holocaust happening. And I turned my eyes and refused to look.”
I’m not relishing in the defunding of Planned Parenthood movement. But I just can’t sit back and watch the dehumanization of people anymore. I can’t watch as we teach our kids that life isn’t life. That life is a choice. That someone else’s life depends on your wants or needs.
And maybe it starts with Planned Parenthood, but it also has to be more.
I know that was the second prayer on my lips this week, after the prayer for God to open my eyes to the suffering I was ignoring. And now that I see it, I’m crying out and asking how I could possibly do anything to save these lives and affirm their humanity. All of humanity. Not just the pre-born ones, or the white ones, or the one that reside on my continent. But all of humanity.
It has to be the movies we choose not to watch. Are we filling our minds with images of women who are objectified as sex objects? Do we watch women being tortured or murdered for the sake of entertainment? Are we allowing ourselves to become numb to violence, abuse and death so that when it happens in the news or in real life, we can no longer feel the horror of it?
Do we have boundaries in our homes around the internet? Are we talking with our kids about porn, and it’s effects? Are we discussing the ideas of consent?
When we see an injustice, are we turning our heads? Do we ignore current events because it is just too hard for us to read? What about for the people living it?
Are we making our homes available for children in need? Are we willing to give to moms who need support, or do we hoard what we are given?
We can’t simply take one thing away and expect our society to be so much better. You and me. We have to step up. We have to stop being the non-Jews in the midst of a Holocaust, burying our heads and just trying to keep our own families SAFE.
I don’t know all the answers. I’m certainly not here to give any easy ones.
I can’t even tell you where this all will lead me.
But I know that if I have any integrity left in my bones, it’s going to lead to action.
I will not let my children say of me,
SHE JUST SIMPLY STOOD BY AND WATCHED IT HAPPEN.