The Honorable Richard Blumenthal
724 Hart Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, DC, 20510
Dear Senator Blumenthal,
My name is Emmett Eldred. I am one of many youth and young adults who belong to an active, passionate movement to better reflect the love and teachings of Jesus in our everyday living. I am writing to you as part of a series of over 1000 letters that I will write over the next year to public figures about the Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN), the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria.
I’m sure you remember the 276 schoolgirls from northern Nigeria who were kidnapped by Boko Haram. Roughly three-fourths of those girls belong to the EYN. In fact, few groups have people have suffered more from the violence in Nigeria more than the EYN.
As you are an influential member of the Senate Committee on Armed Forces, I think it is important for you to consider why the United States should not respond to the violence in Nigeria with military action. Boko Haram literally means “western education is forbidden.” This is an aggressive statement towards western culture, but it is a sentiment rooted in the history of western empire in Africa. This empire appeared first through the slave trade, then through European colonization, and then through private and state subsidized, resource-driven interests and other backdrops for westernization that served anterior economic motives. Though the United States and other Western countries have done many great things throughout Africa, they have also done some terrible, selfish things. As a result, many Africans view American military intervention wearily, fearing that some anterior motive is at play.
Like many terrorist organizations, Boko Haram is able to recruit off of the military activities of its enemies, even if this action is well-intended. Military involvement by the United States would only galvanize Boko Haram, fueling it with the hate needed to increase the scope and energy of its campaign and giving it material to propagandize and use to recruit new militants.
Instead, consider the courageous story of the EYN. The Church of the Brethren, including the EYN, is a historic peace church. The EYN remains steadfast to their commitment to peace, despite their hardship.
They understand that the only way to dismantle the tradition of violence that plagues this region is to be leaders in not practicing violence. It is not military security, but human security that can bring about lasting change. Though they experience great hate, fear, and division, they respond with even great love, courage, and community. It’s much harder for Boko Haram to recruit on that.
I urge you to consider the story and example of the EYN. We should be investing in the people of Nigeria who are doing good and working for human security, rather than impressing upon a weary people unwelcome military force. Pay credit to the hope, inspiration, and example of the EYN by joining me in advocating for humanitarian aid for the EYN and the people of Nigeria.
With sincere thanks,
Carnegie Mellon University SMC#2046
Pittsburgh, PA 15289