Would you be a Human Shield?

St. Mark's Cathedral in Alexandria
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“Egyptian Muslims to Act as Human Shield at Coptic Christmas Mass” –  were the headlines in a story two days ago from Ahram Online news. The story goes into detail on the unity of Egyptian Muslims coming together to shield fellow Egyptians from danger, Coptic Christians, people who share the same country but not the same faith. A week prior at a New Year’s service held at the Two Saints Coptic Church in Alexandria more than 30 Egyptians were killed and over 90 injured in an attack carried out by a suicide bomber.

The story is a story that is seldom heard.  This happened the day before the tragic shooting in Tucson, Arizona. A shooting that seriously wounded a congresswoman, killed a judge, and took away life from a 9-year old.   There were no Human Shields for the Arizona shooting and the country is grieving and rightfully troubled over this preventable tragedy.   

Salman Taseer, governor of the Punjab, lost his life last week being a verbal human shield.  He defended the rights of a Christian woman in Pakistan – she a minority as a Christian, a minority as a woman. He had nothing in common with her on the surface but chose to  advocate for her release and fight against blasphemy laws in Pakistan.

Would I be a Human Shield if someone or a group of people with whom I disagree are under attack?  Let me bring this closer to home:  If I knew a mosque was at risk of being attacked in the greater Boston area, would I be willing to serve as a human shield, despite the fact that I’m not Muslim and know there are fundamental differences in core beliefs?  Would I be a shield of protection for people who have a belief or ideology with which I disagree, to protect life?

Convictions sometimes prohibit me from compassion and the practical living out of my beliefs. Somehow I get the idea that if I stand up for someone in the face of violence against them, whether it be physical or verbal,  that I agree with them, that I am being untrue to my values and promoting those that are antithetical to mine.  I don’t believe it’s that simple. Was the Good Samaritan afraid of losing his culture and his values? I’ll close with two questions:

  1. Would you be a Human Shield?
  2. Why or Why-not?

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7 thoughts on “Would you be a Human Shield?

  1. Years ago I asked someone with ties to the administration — what if we sent 200,000 peace purveyors instead of 200,000 troops and hundreds (if not thousands) of tanks? What if we could find a half million folks willing to give their lives for peace — would the government be able to get them to the war zone?

    Can you even imagine that? 500,000 folks determined to build roads, teach in schools, care for the sick, feed the hungry, visit the prisoners — even if it meant they would be killed for their efforts.

    My friend had a myriad of reasons why the government would not be able (willing?) to do that.

    Then again, I’ve always wondered if we could find a half-million people willing to lay down their lives for a friend — let alone folks they don’t know.

    I would like to think I would.

    “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
    (Joh 15:12-13 NRS)


    1. Great question to ask. And interesting response because one could argue it’s far cheaper to transport peace than tanks and soldiers. Thanks for the comment and keeping the conversation going.


  2. Thank you for the story and reminder of Cain’s Question. I think it illustrates perfectly that being a human shield usually starts in ways like that – sticking up for the individual. I ask myself the same courage question and don’t always like what I think the answer is.


  3. I read the article a few days ago and found it profoundly moving.

    I t comes back to Cain’s question: Am I my brother’s keeper? I reckon God thinks the answer is Yes.

    I remember in Primary school with my friend bringing a girl home with me at lunchtime because she was being bullied and lived too far away to go home. I still recall her name and how my friend Dinah and I took her part. It was a good thing to do. Do I still have that kind of courage, I wonder!


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