by Elisabeth Wilder – Horizon Columnist
Sometimes, I can’t escape the desolation of images like this. Images of armed men performing mass executions, murders videotaped for the entire world to see, people crying out in agony in the streets, and proud men smiling amidst severed heads and dead bodies. Allow me to introduce you to ISIS. ISIS is a religious extremist group that is seeking to have religious control over the Middle East and other highly populated Muslim territory. This group was a part of al-Qaeda, until al-Qaeda broke ties with the group for being too unpredictable and brutal. Let me repeat that, even al-Qaeda thinks this group is too extreme.
Currently ISIS is continuing to terrorize the Middle East through suicide bombings, car bombs, kidnappings, mortar attacks, and other cruel forms of violence. The United States, in response to ISIS, has conducted several air strikes and has also supplied humanitarian aid to those who have been affected in the Middle East. In the latest news, President Obama approved the request for 350 more troops to be sent to Iraq. This is potentially a retort to ISIS, who within the last three weeks have beheaded two American reporters, Steven Scotloff and James Foley, as “punishment for United States military involvement” and British aid worker David Haines, as “a message to the allies of America.”
With a situation so far away and so extreme it is easy to separate ourselves from the problem and to deceive ourselves into thinking that there is nothing we can do. Please, don’t dismiss the madness as improbable and helpless. Each of us has the power to help in some way. If you have the means, consider donating to Samaritan’s Purse or other relief organizations that are providing aid to those affected by the violence in the Middle East. Stay up to date about the United States involvement, maybe you can provide support for those who have relatives who are doing some form of service over seas. Lastly, take time to pray for peace in the Middle East. If praying is unfamiliar to you, or you’re not quite sure where to start, allow me to help.
Pray for ISIS:
For people who have never felt how wonderful it is to live in the fullness of a loving and merciful God.
For people who have been misguided and living without truth.
And that God may soften their hearts to the severity of their actions.
Pray for the leaders of the United States:
For wisdom, guidance, and the understanding to provide relief in a responsible and meaningful way.
For empathy, compassion, and concern for those who are suffering.
And that conscientious decisions and actions can be made to end the violence.
Pray for the people in the Middle East:
For people like you and me, who have families, homes, hopes, and dreams.
For people who must live in constant fear and panic.
And whether it’s a blanket, bread, or medicine, let comfort flow in ceaseless forms.
Pray for those who are in the midst of conflict:
For soldiers, protecting civilians and those in danger
For peacemakers and pacifists, who provide mediation, support, and condolence.
And all those who had the courage to lay down their lives in the name of peace and resolution.
Pray for yourself:
That God will bless you with discomfort, anger, and tears for what is happening to our fellow humans. May God grant you earnest and persistent hope to pray for peace, and spare you the cynicism of hopelessness. Most of all, pray that God will move your heart in such a way that you may aid to those who are hurting in some way, shape, or form.
Elisabeth Wilder’s column, “You Should Care” will explore current events and will appear in each issue of the Horizon. Elisabeth is a sophomore disaster management major.