He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth

As it is written in the prophecy of Isaiah: “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth” (Is 53:7 – NRSV). We can see from this prophecy that violence and insecurity are making the headlines. This is because of the various conflicts and wars in several countries. Violence and insecurity are becoming more and more a part of our daily lives, and we fear that they will become second nature, i.e. seen as normal.

So, what do we mean by violence and insecurity? Violence may be understood as the intentional use of physical force or threats against others, groups or a community. In other words, it involves coercion and domination and can cause human and material damage. Violence and insecurity can affect not only physical health but also have psychological consequences, paving the way for possible self-destruction, isolation and depression in victims. They supplant the love and affection humans should have for each other, not to mention undermining efforts to achieve peace and social cohesion in communities. This shows that violence can take different forms.

What types of violence and what are the remedies?

Violence can be psychological, verbal, economic and physical. It can also occur in the family, public spaces and institutions such as schools. Despite all this, we remain animated by an unshakeable hope for an eventual return of love and peace in communities if appropriate awareness-raising campaigns on the consequences of violence and insecurity are carried out. In particular, we are considering setting up awareness-raising programmes for the youth to eradicate any behaviour and social norms that encourage and facilitate this phenomenon. What’s more, setting up appropriate structures can help victims in the event of violence. In other words, there should be follow-up and support for the victims of violence in the communities while providing appropriate security in these areas. It is also important to identify ways of helping young people living in economically or socially disadvantaged conditions. Our experience here in Nigeria has shown that many young people lack the necessities of life. This is an open door to terrorism since money can be used as bait to recruit these young people for terrorism.

My personal experience

Some of you will know that I had the misfortune, along with another confrere, to live through the terrible experience of being kidnapped for three solid weeks. But long before that, we as a community were committed to promoting social cohesion through good neighbourliness and setting up empowerment projects for young people. We also trained the youths to fight against incivism, violence and insecurity in our community. We dared to do all this because we noticed that the population was being left to fend for itself. Everyone had to fight for survival. This situation has led to a lot of violence and insecurity in the area. While we can’t justify violence or insecurity, we recognise that certain situations can cause much damage.

Violence and insecurity are evils that must be eradicated, because they damage the integrity of others. Despite what has happened to us, we remain hopeful for a better tomorrow when people will understand that they are there because the other is there; we all need each other. And our faith tells us that for God, nothing is lost. Nothing is ever too late for God, and nothing is impossible for Him.

By: Paul Sanogo (M.Afr.)


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