A cowardice act of violence and hatred claimed the lives of twenty-one Coptic Orthodox Christians (Copts) on February 13, 2015, gripping the hearts of the civilized world as more blood was shed. Intending to strike fear into the lives of their enemies, ISIS deplorably executed innocent people in an effort to propagate their message of terror. Citizens and leaders throughout the world continue to watch as news cycles move from one story to the next. Lost in the blitz of these tragedies is the full reality that those who were beheaded are spouses and children, siblings and parents, coworkers and friends. These people belong to religious communities and local neighborhoods. Above all, each one is a human beings created in the image of God, endowed with the basic dignity that should be upheld for every member of the human race.
A Continued Response
For nearly two thousand years, the Christians of Egypt have suffered during waves of persecution. The Copts have remained faithful to their witness in Christ. While faced with imminent death, several of those dressed in orange knelt in prayer, awaiting the inevitability of dying for their faith in Jesus Christ. With a willingness to do whatever it takes to follow Christ, no matter the cost, the death of these twenty-one martyrs cannot be for naught. Their life message stands out as a call from the grave of those who made a clear choice without hesitation.
Each time ISIS makes a video of their killings, they continue to expose themselves to a watching world. Some may choose not to believe the reality, while others may ignore the facts; though these men hide behind their masks, killing innocents, ISIS has clearly announced to the world exactly who they are. In a video with forty-two people present – twenty-one clothed in orange while kneeling, some of clearly engaged in prayer, with another twenty-one covered in black while holding swords and knives to the throats of the defenseless – two sides of the human condition are clearly contrasted before our eyes.
Those dressed in orange, affirming the true image of strength, as exemplified in that of their Master Jesus Christ, juxtaposed by a group of cowards veiled behind black masks and swords, representing the lowest aspect of the human condition. The world community has to face the reality that it stands complicit every time these men covered in black kill another victim and nothing is done. Which group best represents the humanity that will make the world a better place? Which image do you want representing the future for that region? These two groups could not be on more opposing ends of the spectrum. As we stand at the crossroads, humanity has a choice. If the choice is so clear, what is the hesitation?
What appears to be decision-making based on self-serving interests, civic leaders and media throughout the world continue to act with short-sided objectives in mind. Debating the legitimacy of the Egyptian government, Western countries have invested a plethora of resources in attempting to delegitimize a strategic partner that has stood for the will of the people. Rather than partnering up with countries in the region to offer logistical support and assistance in areas where requested – with the opportunity to promote greater regional stability, increased local prosperity and improved protection for minority groups – the vast majority of world leaders either stand by watching as thousands continue to be massacred throughout the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa, or seemingly support policy that further destabilizes a region that is on the brink of civil war. With a brazen display of crimes against humanity that specifically targets minority groups, one must wonder what prevents action from being taken. If the choice is so clear, what is the hesitation?
In forty-eight hours the news cycle will flip once again and the outcry will die down. Whether Christian or Muslim, Egyptian or Syrian, Japanese or Nigerian, every drop of blood that has been shed is intolerable. How many more acts of senseless murder and violence will the global village sit back and willfully accept? If the choice is so clear, why hesitate any longer?