The tragic incident on London Bridge has given us all pause for thought. This broken world is unbelievably cruel at times. And why? If you are capable of violence do you resort to violence merely because you can?
The concept of deliberately targeting civilians, the innocent, the young, to make a political point, is a familiar one. To merely say it is wrong seems trite but none the less it needs saying. It is wrong. Again and again it needs saying. It is profoundly and utterly wrong, both in the eyes of compassionate humanity and in the eyes of God.
Our hearts bleed for the victims. And at the same time we cherish and admire the response of those that went to their aid, whether from the police force, or from those many bystanders that stepped forward to help, or from the health service (and incidentally one in four of Britain’s doctors and one in six of Britain’s nurses are migrants).
We cannot and must not ever allow terrorism to succeed in its aim. And in this instance the aim is to sow fear and division, to foster hatred and spite. To allow our hearts to be hardened by this venomous act is to allow the perpetrators a frisson of success. Whereas what they deserve is our pity and forgiveness because then they fall subject to the judgment of God, and his judgment is and always will be remorseless when the innocent are the victims.
If we must be angry, better we rage against God for permitting such injustice, if the only other choice is to allow ourselves to become consumed with anger with our fellow man. Can we regard our enemies as our friends? For hatred can we return love? In so doing we break the power of evil and love casts out fear, if we allow it to do so.
It was with profound sadness that we heard the news of the Manchester bombing. This act of cruelty was all the more atrocious because it deliberately targeted the young and vulnerable.
Those who set themselves apart by committing acts of extreme brutality, and those who support them, have often been warned of the consequences of their actions.
Violence spawns violence.
Anger spawns anger.
Hate spawns hate.
Our response, however, will be different. We cherish our values. We stand for compassion. We stand for sincerity. We stand for loyalty. We stand for hope. We stand for an inclusive society rather than a small minded world based on exclusivity. We stand with all of good heart. We stand together, strengthened, not cowed, by this piteous act.
This act redoubles our resolve to protect our vulnerable, most particularly the very young and the very old, the weak and the dispossessed – And to prevent them from all harm. And in so doing build a world founded on love and fellowship and complete freedom from fear.
I am profoundly saddened, as is everyone we know, by the lone wolf attack on Britain’s parliament by an individual who must presumably be an ISIS / Daesh sympathiser.
What makes a man commit an atrocity of this kind in which innocent civilians are killed? Any attack that deliberately targets civilians is morally repugnant in the eyes of humanity at large, and is to be presumed utterly reprehensible in the eyes of any God the attacker may or may not believe in.
The worst of it is that any atrocity is by definition one of the worst crimes conceivable because atrocity breeds atrocity as retribution breeds retribution and a cycle of violence is spawned.
Forgiveness is difficult; moreso for some of us when we suppress our natural reaction to those that target the innocent. And in this instance a number of the injured were children. And the natural reaction of at least some of us is to wish any such attacker may burn in hell.
However there is a place beyond forgiving – for some acts can never be forgiven except by the righteous and there are precious few of those in this world. But there is a place beyond forgiving in which we show compassion, mercy and love to our enemies and their victims alike.
The enemies of humanity (whether Daesh / ISIS, or Al Qa’idah, or indeed any who deliberately target non-combatants of any kind) expect and deserve our outrage. Indeed they often act as they do in order to provoke our hatred.
We defeat them best, and their entire ideology of exclusivity, when we find it in our hearts to offer them our pity, and face down their self-consuming hatred with our own ideology of inclusivity, compassionate mercy, and love.
God will judge them, we should not. Nor should we allow extremists the satisfaction that their actions may have in some way instilled in us any sense of fear in regard to tomorrow. We have no need to worry about tomorrow. God is already there.
A petition has been put before parliament, and with more than 108,000 signatures it will be debated in the House of Commons on 27th March. This is a major achievement. The wording of the petition is as follows:
End the badger cull instead of expanding to new areas
Since 2013, thousands of badgers have been killed in a Government cull attempting to control bovine TB. Against scientific advice & before a 4 year trial has completed, the government is now expanding the cull to new counties – tens of thousands of healthy badgers could be killed. Experts in disease control and animal welfare agree that pilot badger culls have proven both ineffective and inhumane. Shooting badgers is also expensive, costing tax-payers some £5,000 per animal. Bovine TB is a serious problem but killing badgers is not the solution, and could actually make the situation worse. It is a costly distraction from an effective solution incorporating vaccination, increased cattle movement control measures and improved testing.
I spoke in Plymouth on Brexit and migration, along with two or three other interesting people. The meeting was chaired by Tam Fowles of Hope in the Heart, a group based both in Plymouth and Penzance. Below is a youtube link for a video of an interview Tam and I did for my weekly broadcasts to the Middle East. It is relevant. Full details of the interesting press statement after the Plymouth meeting are below.
Participants in an event held in Plymouth this week titled, “Towards a New Europe – Migration and Hope in a Post-Brexit World”, held differing views as to the reasons people had voted Brexit. Some complained of the lack of idealism in the Remain campaign, which focussed too heavily on economic issues, others just wanted to punish the establishment for being out of touch. Reasons for voting “Remain” ranged from a lack of trust in the government to handle “Brexit” should it happen, to an idealistic hope that we would “stay together”.
Speakers included independent Police and Crime Commissioner candidate William Morris, who talked of the need to be inclusive and work towards a world without frontiers, whilst at the same time confessing his sympathy with the Brexit position because the South West’s key fishing ports, Penzance and Brixham, had been severely affected by the EU’s Common Fisheries policy that had resulted in the decimation of the UK’s fisheries fleet.
The meeting was addressed by Amina Khalid of the Somali Initiative for Democracy and Dialogue, who in turn emphasised the need for more tolerance for refugees and spoke of her own harsh experience of bullying at school when she first arrived in the UK.
Tam Fowles of the Plymouth based “Hope in the Heart” group chaired the event and asked participants to identify their hope for a post-Brexit Britain. The response from those present was to aspire to a world in which there was greater “human goodness” and better understanding between the generations, more tolerance and inclusivity, and a more relevant education system that empowered the young.
The meeting was held under the auspices of Initiatives of Change, a group espousing an ideology of compassion and honesty, the objective being that this meeting act as a model for a series of meetings to identify ways forward in a post Brexit world and actions that could encourage greater political harmony on the issue.
The youngest speakers to address the meeting were Majd Twijeri and Polly Hanford of the Mid East facebook based Sufi social media group, Al Khawatir (Reflections). They stressed their view that boundaries caused conflict and appealed for greater support for refugees, whilst emphasising the need to maximise intergenerational dialogue.
The meeting concluded with a series of comments from those present on the need for action, which focussed on the need for a more welcoming approach to those perceived as different. Some also called for greater political engagement to promote greater harmony and tolerance. One participant warned that climate change might create still greater migration pressures in the future and that we should become more vigilant on this issue. All agreed that complacency was not an answer and action at a grass roots level was needed if post Brexit Britain was to have a satisfactory future.
Should we stay or should we go? Sounds like something from a pop song. But of all the videos I made during the police elections campaign, this is the most currently relevant in view of the vote on June 23rd. So if you have time listen to it. Perhaps you will find it helpful when it comes to making your own decision on this important vote.