Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Thoughts on the atrocity on Christchurch new Zealand

Last Friday morning we woke to the news of the horrifying and terrible events that had taken place in the mosque in Christchurch New Zealand. As I get older it seems that my emotions are more stirred. Somehow the combination of New Zealand which I know to be a beautiful country and is in some ways the epitome for us of far away and the image of sea, sailing and sheep and this unbridled callous act of hatred is too difficult to hold side by side. There was an installation a few years ago in the Tate Modern of a huge wavering crack across the turbine hall - the artist is Doris Salcedo - and it is this sort of dislocation, this sort of fissure that we met on Friday morning. There have been plenty of voices on the radio and most sound to me confused and unsure.

What I wonder is our place in all of this - by us I mean the Christian who believes in the words we said this morning.

Now as you will learn I am a poor gardener and each year the same thing happens - the yellow rose comes first and it is tucked slightly out of direct sight so I have to pad outside to look closely at it. It is a deliberately tall bush of an ancient variety and its flowers herald the beginning of the summer - and then I notice that there are high nettles and bind weeds that surround the poor thing and off I go to the garage in search of shears, saws, and other tools of destruction to take down the weeds. If only I say I had paid more attention and pulled up the baby nettles when they first came.

An alarming thing about the attack in New Zealand was that the man had been posting hate filled notices on social media, he was known to hold these views and what I want to stress is that he felt no compunction or shame in expressing them, presumably for a long time and in different ways. I have recently come from Luton where the incidence of prosecuted hate crime has been growing steadily. Here is a case it seems to me of nettles being allowed to flourish and to grow tall. The prosecutions are the secateurs being wielded too late. When did it become acceptable to use disparaging language against groups of people?

It is not new, I know.  Mary Whitehouse was derided in her day for complaining about the words of a character called Alf Garnett, but you know she was probably right  - but it is not this grossly evident behaviour that I want to think about but rather the seeds that are being sown every day. A politician interviewed recently described the behaviour of his colleagues as political idiocy - comparatively mild in these times - Laura Kuensberg picked him up on this asking if he was calling his colleagues idiots. He skirted her point - did the indirect insult inform the discussion? was it needed?

What we as Christians can do is pull the nettles up very early; we can be careful ourselves never to denigrate and more difficult we can intervene and say something when we hear others begin to do so - especially the young. we can pull them up. Of course we may be accused of “political correctness” a sort of excusing term for “calling a spade a spade” but which may be hiding a prejudice that is inconsistent with the great commandment

Love your neighbour as yourself.

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