Am I alone in finding the violent protests in London and across the world in recent weeks deeply disturbing? This isn’t a reaction either for or against the reason for the protesting – rather it is a reaction to the level of violence and the hatred of the ‘other’ – whoever that ‘other’ is – that seems endemic in society, that seems to be the chosen method for people to make their point or set the agenda.
Violence and hatred are not the way to bring about meaningful change in society, in fact they are more likely to bring about the opposite. It isn’t the answer to the problems of the world to replace one form of bigotry with another….(the dictionary definition of bigotry is ‘intolerance towards those who hold different opinions from oneself’).
Surely there is a better way…….
It was Martin Luther King who said “Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”
And do you remember Jo Cox, the MP murdered in June 2016, in the days leading up to the Brexit vote? In her maiden speech in Parliament she said “We are far more united and have far more in common than that which divides us” and she went on to say “love is stronger than hate, unity is stronger than division, hope is stronger than fear.”
Now she was talking about the division and disruption caused by the then upcoming Brexit vote, but I think her words apply just as much in the current climate. Perhaps more so when we take them together with words written by Kathleen Maxwell-Jones in an article in Tearfund Lifestyle:
If we are to honour Jo and create a lasting legacy for her work, let it be in our social justice campaigning; tirelessly speaking up for humanity with a fierce compassion and generosity; let it be in how we disagree with humility, a listening ear and an open heart. Let it be in how we relate to those in power; believing the good before the bad, congratulating our leaders when they do well and supporting them when they fail.
Let it be in how we look at the ‘other’ in the face; the stranger, the foreigner, the one with a different accent or the one who holds a different political view from our own – looking for the common humanity before the difference, and seeking to make friends rather than enemies.(https://lifestyle.tearfund.org/article/more-in-common-celebrating-the-life-of-jo-cox/)
Martin Luther King was a Christian, and while I don’t know about either Jo Cox or Kathleen Maxwell-Rose, their words and Dr King’s all reflect the Christian Gospel, all speak of ‘loving the neighbour’, about wanting the best for ‘the other’, whoever that other might be. Read the words again……surely this response is the better way, surely this response is incarnational and will in the end bring about meaningful change……