Bring back our girls…and boys!
We are all dismayed at the abduction of over 200 girls in Nigeria. The organization that kidnapped them, an extremist Muslim group, is called Boko Haram, whose name in the Hausa language literally means “Western education is a sin.”
There is a justifiable fear that the girls are being sold and married to the militants who have abducted them. Even if they aren’t married off, it is very possible that they won’t be able to marry because their “purity” will always be in question. Their future is bleak. All because they wanted an education. The world is crying, “Bring back our girls.”
When I hear the refrain, I think about the girls…and boys here in Chicago who have experienced violence. As of late April, more than 50 children 16 years old or younger have been shot in Chicago. A young girl was gunned down on the west side recently over a boy, a common argument among adolescents. But other children have recently been shot walking home from playing at a park. I have that same mantra in my prayers: bring back our girls…and boys.
On this past Friday afternoon, Mayor Rahm Emanuel issued a call to “put the guns down.” DJs across the city will make PSAs. He believes that behavior changes when all of us work together to change it. He has also called upon the places of worship throughout the city—where one community/neighborhood suffers, they all suffer—to reclaim the streets.
Many communities and churches have made individual efforts, but on Friday evening, May 23, 2014 from 7 – 9 p.m., he is asking the faith community to march in their neighborhoods. “Open the door, go out on the street, take that love and passion out into the streets,” he told 200 religious leaders gathered together on a conference call.
This marks the beginning of Memorial Day weekend and presumably the warmer weather: “put the guns down.” He wants us to have a march once a month throughout the summer. “Bemoan violence before the fact, not after the fact,” Mayor Emanuel said.
Those of you in the Chicago and Chicagoland area: watch for further information about where we will hold marches as United Methodists. I invite those of you who live in Chicagoland to come and lend your support. Bring back our girls…and boys! Put down your guns! Let’s put legs to our prayers!