The Power of #Hashtag#

Honestly a couple of years ago I thought this – # – was a number sign or a tic tac toe board.  Hashtag sounded like a cool game of tag where you run around throwing hash at someone  – “hash you’re it’.  A few more years ago no one knew what a hashtag was.  But today more than one million people added their voice to the hashtag – #BringBackOurGirls.  Hopefully that is well known to everyone as referring to the abduction of more than 200 school girls in Nigeria on April 14 by Boko Haram militants who are threatening to sell the girls into slavery.

Anyone who has seen footage of the militants must believe in the existence of evil.  As Edmund Burke famously said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”  That is exactly what Boko Haram was counting on.  And if brave moms had not cried out to the world stage, nothing would have happened in Nigeria.  Just more numbers in a growing evil of human trafficking.  But that did not happen.  As many observed the bravery of the moms and their girls, they were emboldened to do something.  Perhaps you’ve heard the criticism leveled against the hashtag campaign – the first lady should not take time from the President to promote, nothing will happen so why engage in an exercise of futility, it’s a Nigerian problem so let them handle it, etc.  The student of history should hear those as dangerous echoes of the past that enabled such atrocities as the holocaust and apartheid.

We live on a global stage and these girls are our daughters.  The pressure brought by the hashtag campaign brought together such diverse groups as France, Israel and China to help with intelligence.  The pressure forced the Nigerian government to not turn a blind eye.  We must stand against injustice in all its forms.  We must let militants know we will not do nothing.  I applaud the mostly women of the world who banded together to raise awareness and shout loudly to the world – this must not be accepted.  Those who feel they are wasting their time and should not concern themselves with such issues are simply wrong.  As a guy who didn’t understand Twitter, I want to say thank you.  To the women (and men)of the world who refuse to be silent in the face of injustice, I say thank you.

In our new hashtag world where we can instantly pull together massive voices for change, I offer one cautionary note.  As we get engaged let’s remember that injustice is rooted in evil and the powers of darkness unleashed upon this world through sin.  We must combat those powers through awareness.  We must combat those powers through action.  But we must remember that the only power which has already defeated evil is the power of love demonstrated in a Savior who died for all mankind upon the cross.  Jesus is our conquering King who alone has power over evil and injustice.  He ask us to take action and reminds us that means calling out to Him in prayer so that the forces of Heaven can be unleashed against the powers of darkness.   We need both prayer and action.  We need to root our actions in the power of the Holy Spirit and in love.  We need to refuse to listen to anyone who tells us we waste our time and energy speaking out against trafficking and other injustices in this world.  Don’t listen to their voice.  Listen to the voice of Jesus who told us to take action.  Who told us to go and do likewise.