My radicalization process began before my birth but was hastened after I arrived home from work one night and discovered Gbenga my younger brother’s body in my apartment while he was visiting me. I was radicalized by who did not greet me in my apartment that night. I fail at it but I vowed after that experience not to do or say anything that cannot be the last thing I did or said.
That is radical.
That experience is one of the reasons I decided to embrace cleaning. Cleaning is radical if radical means returning to essence, to the roots, to the foundation, to truth.
Cleaning is one of the few remaining activities in our world where every move is restorative, every act makes things better, every step leaves a trail of beauty where there was ugliness.
It is that radical and that is why I am sinking my life into it. Cleaning is not my business. Cleaning is my calling. I became even more radicalized after I caught a revelation about cleaning that I asked God to make me a Cleaner even if it was not in his original plan for me – I play around with God often. Yes, I know Cleaner is not something anyone wants to be when they grow up but before I am done with it, many will want to be.
That is radical.
Yet some people get annoyed with me because all I talk about is cleaning perhaps because they consider me an extremist who disregards other worldviews. I am an extremist but what else am I to spend my life doing and speaking about after bearing witness to such an event if not cleaning? Leaving the world in a worse state than it presently is? In any case, cleaning does not compete with other ideas, it cleans them.
We live in the most perilous times in the history of our planet. If you have not been radicalized you may need to check your aliveness. If one’s family is wiped out and everything that represents what one believes in is threatened, a radical response is apt, in my view. A real human is deeply angered or saddened by whatever they consider injustice or needless suffering and they respond accordingly.
How can one see how broken all systems are and not be radical? How can one see what the future seems to hold for our children and be content with waking up, going to work, sending kids to school, going to church, going to bed and then repeating the process again without any commitment to a cause greater than one’s life? We were born on the battlefield and it is not a war between “western civilization” and “radical Islam”. What is there to preserve about a civilization whose very foundation is greed and slavery anyway? This is war between Love and Fear, Light and Darkness, Good and Evil and it is spiritual.
Americans are upset by terrorism but conveniently ignore the injustices of slavery, genocide and terrorism that they either aided or perpetrated. When it comes to terrorism, Americans need to show true greatness by first removing the log in their eyes so they can see clearly to remove the speck in the eyes of Islamic radicals. Those historical and present day injustices should touch a human being deeply enough to do something radical about them and the way to do it is not to fight against Islamic radicals but to properly channel radicalism. Raining bombs on the guilty as well as the innocent is a terrorist though cowardly act that breeds terrorism.
Islamic radicals take their scripture literally and they should be applauded for it. Rather than demonized and fought, they should be won over because they have something in very short supply today – zeal. Christ recruits such people, like he recruited Saul the terrorist.
Christ could have surgically removed Saul the terrorist on the road to Damascus but He didn’t. Some Christians would have undoubtedly jubilated on the streets like Americans did when Osama bin Laden the terrorist was killed but wouldn’t Saul’s death have been a loss to humanity?
Jesus Christ is the quintessential Cleaner. He sees the lover in the terrorist and proceeds to reveal their true potential. Christ seeks people who are ready to lay down their very lives for what they believe. Nothing is more radical than following Christ and He would rather a terrorist on His team than a lukewarm church-goer. Paul knowingly pursued Christ as zealously as He ignorantly persecuted Him. He became even more a lover than he was a killer. Our world needs people ready to lay down their lives to destroy hate with love, a love that is not only ready to die but prays the Christ version of Allahu akbar – “Father forgive them” in the face of martyrdom.
I love love what Napoléon Bonaparte said before he appeared on the world stage,
“…if my enemies wish for my life, let them take it. I have often given proofs how little I value it. Nothing but the thought that I may yet be useful to my country makes me bear the burden of existence with courage.”
That is radical. How do you overcome a spirit that has transcended the fear of death? You have lost the battle if you are worried about your comfort and safety. It is consistent with Jesus’ statement,
“Anyone who loves his life loses it, but anyone who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. [Whoever has no love for, no concern for, no regard for his life here on earth, but despises it, preserves his life forever and ever.]
Thank God for missionaries but if one considers how “Christian” nations treat the “heathen”, one would think Jesus’ mission is to pillage heathen nations, not to bless them. Jesus wants us to send armies, not to kill but to rescue and to embody the good news of God’s Love. We sacrifice lives today in the process of destroying lives but which is more heroic – to die destroying lives or to die saving lives? I doubt if as many terrorists would be taking up arms against “us” and our “western civilization” if “we” truly embodied the indiscriminate and sacrificial love of Christ rather than pillaging in the name of “just war” and capitalism.
Fighting radicalism is not the way to go. We need radicalism. In fact the lack of redemptive radicalism fuels the rise of destructive radicalism. Because we are not offering them anything worthy of living and dying for, young people are being negatively radicalized. Their blood boils and they crave something more than “success” and that is a good thing being wasted. Perhaps that is why young men and women (Islamic or not) are on suicidal missions. They are drawn to the radical. They need more examples of the radical that make the world better, not worse. If you are a banker, be a radical banker. If you are a lawyer, be a radical lawyer. If you are a teacher, be a radical teacher. If you are a street sweeper, be a radical street sweeper. To be radical is lonely but we need you to be radical.
If the present local and global realities as well as your personal challenges make your work and way of life seem meaningless, it may be a sign that you need to become more radicalized. When we become radicalized, news of calamity and terrorist attacks do not stop us in our tracks they spur us on. After Jesus received news of John’s beheading, he responded by continuing His work. That is radical. He went wild healing the sick and feeding the hungry.
I have been radicalized and I am getting more and more radicalized in response to personal, local and global events. May you be radicalized too. Our times demand nothing less.