By REY FLORES
“The violent attacks that are sweeping across northern Iraq cannot but awaken the consciences of all men and women of goodwill to concrete acts of solidarity by protecting those affected or threatened by violence and assuring the necessary and urgent assistance for the many displaced people as well as their safe return to their cities and their homes” — Pope Francis in a recent letter to the United Nations.
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Sing a Little Louder is a story and pamphlet that many of us may already be familiar with. It is a story about an older man recounting a tale about his boyhood in Nazi Germany.
In short, he tells about the church he attended being near railroad tracks where trains transporting captured Jews would pass by on their way to the death camps. During their church services, the cries of the train passengers could be heard, so to keep from hearing the death trains pass by, the congregation would simply sing their hymns louder, sometimes at the top of their voices.
The story concludes with this very disturbing passage: “Their screams tormented us. . . . If some of their screams reached our ears, we’d just sing a little louder.”
Today, we are so distracted by so many things, some of them our own distractions, others calculated by our corrupt government or corporations and media trying to sell us yet another useless thing and steal our hard-earned money.
Is that what we are doing today? Do we sing a little louder or do we stuff headphones in our ears and fill our minds full of pop culture garbage so we don’t have to concern ourselves with all of the slaughter going on in the world?
The blood of our fellow Christians is crying out from the earth in the Middle East. The screams we are trying to drown out are coming all the way from Syria and Iraq and several African nations. It disheartens me, and as I am typing this I weep out of frustration, helplessness, and the dangerous waters of despair.
The Sing a Little Louder story has also been used by pro-lifers to bring light to the fear and apathy many people have about abortion, and it makes all the sense in the world because the blood of our babies also cries out to us for justice.
So much suffering and so much pain, yet so many distractions and diversions to shield us from all of it.
As a writer and an activist in the culture wars, I often witness some of the ugliest realities facing our world today. Now that the Internet is a way of life for us, access to information happens at the speed of light in the forms of word, sound, and video.
With so many people carrying around smartphones as well as an Internet connection, any one of us can act as an independent journalist, bringing light to the darkest of evils. It’s not just exposing the evil that’s important; we must ask ourselves: How do we fight these evils?
Walid Shoebat is a man whom I personally cannot vouch for, nor do I endorse his charitable fundraising efforts, but I will say this about Shoebat: He has been instrumental in bringing some very graphic and shocking videos to the world about our persecuted Catholic and other Christian brothers and sisters.
Since we obviously cannot count on the mainstream, government-run news media, independent journalism like this becomes necessary.
Shoebat’s videos are not something I would recommend for everyone to watch. They are very graphic in nature and show some of the most horrific atrocities taking place today. Headless bodies litter war-torn streets; their heads are stuck into spikes on fences and sticks, proud trophies of radical Muslim jihadists.
Most of the victims in these videos are adult men, but more recently, there are increasing numbers of videos showing beheaded children, some mutilated and also displayed as examples to other Christian infidels to either convert to Islam or die.
A symbolic fine is also an option, but since there is no honor among these Muslim radicals, execution often takes place anyway.
Where are the women, you ask? While the jihadists aren’t above executing women, usually burying them up to their necks, then killing them by stoning their heads, many Christian women and girls are being used in a sex-trafficking ring.
Some of these poor women and girls are gang-raped and the ones who do survive such initial vile acts are then subjected to endure further humiliations and brutal attacks until they die or lose their minds.
As I watch the pictures and videos and read the heart-wrenching stories, I am reminded of my own wife and children and those families at our parish. Imagine any of us having to endure and go through the nightmarish things our brothers and sisters are going through.
I realize that what I am sharing here isn’t news to some of you, but my intent here is to shock all of us into taking action. I cannot speak for any of you, but I would bet that most of you feel as frustrated and helpless as I do when I hear about these horrors.
Will we just continue to sing a little louder, or take some action to help?
The Knights of Columbus has established a matching fund to assist Christians and other religious minorities facing severe persecution or displacement in Iraq and nearby countries (visit www.kofc.org). Also, Your Catholic Voice Foundation has an emergency fund called SAVE Iraqi Christians From Genocide.
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(Rey Flores is a Catholic writer and speaker and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)