The abduction of these girls is one of the situations may cause us to wonder where God is and what can be done. Hundreds of young lives cut short or ruined by sexual and other violence. Great harm occurs when we allow ourselves to see the other person as somehow ‘less than’ us. It is easy to overlook another human being, treat them with indifference or perpetrate violence against them, when we dehumanise them and make them ‘less than’. In America, some Black men were seen as ‘less than’ by the white police officers who shot them. In December, we commemorated the Christmas football game in the First World war, when British and German soldiers climbed out of the trenches, sang carols and played football together. Someone told me that the senior officers prevented such a thing from happening again, as it would have made it harder to fight and kill men who were no longer viewed as ‘less than’.
When we read of great figures in history who have overcome great adversity dealt out by other human beings, this is what we often find; the individual refuses to believe that they might be ‘less than’ – Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks, Emmeline Pankhurst, Troy Perry and many others all refused to believe what those in power told them, they refused to accept that they were inferior. Their confidence in themselves was an inspiration to others and so movements for change were born. As part of the process of change, some of those who once perhaps saw these leaders as ‘less than’ began to see them, and those around them, as equal human beings, worthy of being treated with dignity and respect.
We cannot know what has happened to these young sisters of ours. We cannot help so many of those who will suffer around the world tonight, other than hold them in our prayers. However, what we can do is make sure that we don’t slip into the pattern of regarding other human beings around us, as ‘less than’. We are all created in the image of the same God.