When turning the other cheek becomes unfashionable?
What would you do, if someone brandishing a deadly weapon storms your house and attempts to hack down your family members? As the man of the house, are you going to just watch him unleash mayhem on your family without raising an eyebrow? Is this morally wrong for a man, who is being attacked unjustly to protect his life and those of his family?
The above questions have become imperative, as a result of the incessant attacks going on in Southern Kaduna and failure of the law enforcement agencies to do the right thing by bringing to book the perpetrators of evil. For quite some time now, the whole Christian community has been speaking out in condemnation of herdsmen’s attacks on the poor people of Southern Kaduna. But rather than face issues squarely, the Northern governors are busy saying that the perpetrators of the dastardly acts are not Nigerians. The governor of Kaduna State, El Rufai, was allegedly quoted recently as saying that he gave out some money to herdsmen in return for peace and wondered why they still decided to continue to wreak havoc after being settled. Does it mean he knows the perpetrators? If he does, why can’t he order law enforcement to arrest them and bring them to book?
The whole of last week was inundated with press reports of how one Apostle Suleiman was questioned by the DSS for allegedly calling on Christians to deal decisively with the herdsmen. I have said it severally that we do not advocate the taking of any innocent life. Life is too precious and sacred to be wasted. Thus, it is the responsibility of every pastor or priest to preach peace in the land. However, no clergy will watch his flock being slaughtered like fowls without raising eyebrows. This is where the issue of turning the other cheek comes to play.
As a man of peace, Jesus Christ always preached love and good neighbourliness. He enjoined all men are to live in harmony. For His followers in particular, Christ expected them to respect the constitutional authority and to give to Caesar his due. In Mathew 5: 39, He admonished His followers to turn the other cheek, when smitten.
But that does not mean that a Christian should just stand by and endures insult or humiliation. This does not prevent our remonstrating firmly yet mildly on the injustice of the thing, and insisting that justice should be done. For too long, Christians in Nigeria have been too meek for comfort. They have been humiliated far too much for no just cause. Many have lost their sources of livelihood for no just reason. Those, who feel they have the power over life and death, have killed thousands.
For long, there has been so much insinuation that there is an Islamic agenda against the Christians. We don’t want to believe so, particularly as the Vice President, who is a pastor, has severally debunked such claim. But the reality on the ground seems contrary. There have been allegations that some arrested Boko Haram members have been freed unconditionally, with some even granted amnesty. I don’t want to believe this is true. No one is above the law.
We are still waiting for the law enforcement to parade those arrested in respect of the Southern Kaduna killings. As long as discrimination persists, it fuels the perception that Christians are being targeted for extinction; though I don’t want to believe such. I believe government should seek ways of engendering peace, so that all forms of situations that may fuel religious intolerance, hostility and violence in the country can be curbed before it gets out of hand.
• Very Rev. Msgr. Osu, Director, Social Communications, Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos.