A wise and profound call to action, in the wake of the recent UK attacks, from Justine Huxley of St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace, London. We are sharing it here, with Justine’s kind permission, because this is an important message for all of us no matter where in the world these atrocities are taking place….
Witnessing the panic, chaos and senseless killings on Saturday night while we are still digesting the wrenching scenes of carnage after the Kabul bombing, and grieving for Manchester – this brings home to us that we are now living in a very different landscape – an increasingly divided and unpredictable one.
How should we respond? How do we face up to this new reality around us? And how do we move forward?
We can react with fear, anger or vengeance – but this will only inflame those divisions and drive them deeper. We cannot afford to waste precious energy ‘hating the haters’. As Archbishop Justin Welby said, “We must go on being profoundly and deeply hospitable…we mustn’t turn against people because of their faith…”
All we can really do is meet hate by loving more fiercely. Our only real option is to pull together, summon our collective courage, and take responsibility. Do whatever is in our power to become peace-makers in our own contexts and lives. The oft-quoted African proverb says, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together’.
We clearly need to do both. We have to dig more deeply into our individual commitment, put aside more selfish concerns and contribute whatever we can. We also must reach out across differences and divides of all kinds, go beyond our comfort zones, and live from the real understanding that we are in this together. If we are to turn this around, every one of us will need to be part of a long-term preventative solution.
We’ve seen much to be proud of in our community responses, incredible bravery and speed from emergency services, so many heartening stories of acts of kindness and solidarity from people of all backgrounds. We have, perhaps tragically, become quite familiar with how that togetherness and courage emerge in the liminal space after a major crisis. The question becomes, how can we keep that spirit alive all the time? How can we each play our unique part in ensuring that acts like these do not divide us further?
Positive shared action (and for many of us, prayer) are the best antidotes to fear or despair.
Let’s each of us please use whatever resources and energy we have to find ways of bridging divides and making our communities stronger.
In solidarity and in hope,
Justine Huxley & the St Ethelburga’s team