I don’t normally watch Dispatches. If truth be told, I’m content in my bubble, fed snippets of news in the media, afraid of what I might see if I dig deeper. Curiosity drew me in and I was transfixed, horrified and inspired.
What struck me initially was the lush green vegetation, through which children ran dressed in bright colours. It was so at odds with what I’d imagined the landscape to be like, and even more of an unbearable juxtaposition with the horror and darkness of ISIS.
In 2011, my brother and dad visited Marrakesh, Morocco. At the end of a working day, I idly clicked onto the BBC website to find there had been a market place bombing. My heart pounded as I prayed and rang their mobiles, unable to reach either of them. I wanted the truth before I called my mum to share whatever news there was, good or bad. After what felt like hours, they called back, confused and a little annoyed at the myriad of missed calls. The relief. They’d been there the day before; they were fine. I can’t imagine or entertain the anguish of months of not knowing, wondering, unable to give up hope yet aware of the destructive forces behind the barrier.
Dispatches drew me out of my bubble. The lawyers, the photographers, the bloggers, the guides; their lives revolved around rescue. In the midst of this obscenity, was sacrifice. People willing to risk death to give others life. They don’t analyse whether these people are worth saving based on who they are or what they’ve done. They are simply human and as such, qualify for rescuing. I would do anything to protect my family, but would I do that for others?
For these people, the consequences are worth the risk. Dispatches didn’t shy away from consequences, either. I’ve read about stoning in the Bible, but never witnessed it until now. I saw people kneel to be executed, condemned by their own family, and was sickened to my stomach. I began to burn with injustice at what I saw, determined to burst out of my bubble for them.
ISIL was described by those who had experienced it as ‘black’. From the clothing to the general sense of hopelessness and darkness. Yet through this, in the midst of all this oppression, a few moments of utter courage:
A 21-year-old woman trying to protect a nine-year-old from rape said: “I don’t mind dying for her, don’t take her.” They took the child anyway.
An undercover photographer, showing the world the reality of living under the regime: “When we do these operations we know the dangers, even death.”
A rescued woman: “We’ll never forget the good you did.” The rescuer: “It’s nothing.”
Jesus: “Greater love has no one than this; to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
And that’s what struck me in Dispatches. The guide who leads others to safety before turning round and walking back into the Islamic State to rescue others. The Christ-like, self-sacrificial disregard of fear and threat because people need rescuing.
What did Dispatches teach me? Amongst many other things, you can never overcome good with evil. If one person is willing to lay down their life for another, there is no place for evil to win.
How can I fight for justice? I’m not sure. My prayers are more fervent and my thirst for justice has never been so heightened. I’m challenged to lay down my money, my time, even my life for others. When I live in a world of relative security, most sacrifices are simply my comfort. I’m not sure what my response can be, but I know I can no longer be comfortable and ignore what doesn’t yet affect me personally. What’s my response? To pray, and wait for God’s direction because I know this isn’t the end and I refuse to get back in my bubble.