by Project Interfaith Communications Intern, Mary Shorun.
Christmas is the day of our Lord, the day that Jesus was born. I grew up in Nigeria, where I was raised to understand the tremendous significance of Christmas – that we ought to go to Mass in our most cherished outfits, me and my sisters in matching expensive lace fabric that my mom would have queued to buy at the clothing store. My father is most happy on Christmas, but he does not fail to threaten leaving anyone behind – anyone like me who got up from bed first and showered last. His priest’s blessings are too important to him, and he wouldn’t miss them for anything.
It is this Christmas mindset that I came to the States with three years ago. Christmas of 2010 went by quietly in Omaha, Nebraska, the frozen white snow falling from the sky reminded me of my home’s warm pleasantness and how much I should be praying to head back someday soon. 2010 was a good year, probably the best I can remember since coming to the States. Christmas, at that time, resonated home.
Then came 2011, which would have joyously ended, but for some haraming absurdity that’s been going on in an almost desert-encroached Northern Nigeria. My phone’s shrill wail woke me on Christmas day. It was my friend who called. In my half-sleep state, I could barely make out the words “bombing,” “church,” and “Catholic.” I mumbled “hun-hun” and hung up. She called back. I didn’t answer. When I finally came to, I grabbed my PC and attempted to launch my favorite site: facebook. There, I saw the gory pictures, the handiwork of humans devoid of compassion. A radical Muslim sect, Boko Haram, had detonated bombs at one St Theresa's Catholic Church, a few minutes after unsuspecting worshippers had been dismissed from church. I saw children whose heads had been popped open. I trembled as I saw adults – once happy men and women who had gone to church to worship their God – struggling to survive the pain that had been inflicted upon their being. The number of deaths that have resulted from these attacks are estimated at 190. For all of 2011, the total number of deaths is placed at 450. How can the dignity of the person be so trampled on?
My pastor Martin always asks me what I am passionate about; what I hate. He says he hates oppression. I think I do too. But what I am really passionate about, what I hate, as of now, is brutality – man’s inhumanity to man. I loathe it. It makes me sick. I cannot explain enough how much I detest inhumanity. I wept on Christmas day. I was emotionally traumatized on the day of our Lord. I wept so much that not even the comfort of my sisters’ soothing words could console me. The worst I feared on Christmas day was no Christmas presents from friends or family. I didn’t even think to fear a killing spree in my own country. I didn’t envisage such a sad condition of life in Nigeria. How did we get here? What happened to the once known giant of Africa? What kind of new giant is this one?
So has gone Christmas of 2011. After all of this savagery and these violent acts, I can only hope for a glorious 2012; a 2012 void of evil.
Mary is a Communications intern for Project Interfaith. She is currently studying Information Systems at Bellevue University, and is also involved with another nonprofit, Taking it Global, where she currently volunteers as online magazine editor and guest blogger. During her time with Project Interfaith, Mary hopes to gain valuable insights into the nonprofit sector while also learning about cultural and religious diversity. At some point in her life, Mary hopes to dive fully into the nonprofit sector. She enjoys cooking, writing, reading, and taking road trips.