This is it… I have not found the time to write in this blog for so long but have had a restless night and this has compelled me to do so.
Last night when we got home from an afternoon out with family I settled down to watch the much talked about documentary film 13th. It felt like a prelude and introduction to put a context to the world we now live in through the eyes of history in the USA.
At the heart of my faith, as a Catholic and Christian, is the firm belief that God has created all of us equal and in “His image”. We recognise we are diverse, different and unique and need to celebrate this and not use it to divide us. When I look for God amongst us it is looking forwards and around me that I find Christ walking by our side not looking into the clouds or awaiting some Divine apparition.
My most formative experiences in life were ones where I was challenged to recognise this basic equality and I am grateful to my parents and family for nurturing this.
- I was blessed by being introduced to seeing the person not the disability at a young age as my parents invited young people to our home from Chailey Heritage Foundation.
- As a teenager I was encouraged by a Priest at school to go on the Lourdes pilgrimage with the diocese and found my firmest friends for life and the value of a living faith. This taught me to see beyond the age, illness or disability.
- I was able to spend a gap year in Zimbabwe, working in a very privileged school, but also learning so much from African culture and generosity. The poorest people always offering such joy and generosity and sharing in the little they have.
- More recently Uganda has stolen a piece of my heart through working with Uganda Hands for Hope. We have taken students there to be gifted the deepest education as they work with the children in the school and recognise their privilege and responsibility to take their place in the world.
The aim of the above is not to give a potted life history but solely to make sense of some of my responses to this amazing, yet challenging, documentary.
At the end of the film I found myself deeply disturbed and at times short of breath and I am not sure I have had this response to a film ever before. In essence it was due to the realisation of how people of colour can feel, not only in the United States but here too.
As the film reflected on the history of the slave trade and imprisonment it would be too simple to lay the blame at the American door but that would be failing to look closely in the mirror.
As a British people we have much to answer for in the unending empire building and colonisation deep in our history.
We have cities and infrastructures still built on the profits of the slave trade and the oppression of people. So the issue of race underlies all of this and is relevant for all of us to engage with.
As a teenager I was outraged by the apartheid of South Africa and the sense of injustice but it feels like although these divisions are less prominent in our political systems they still remain deeply embedded in society.
I have always promised that education needs to be a power for change and a power for good. I believe it is a privileged position for us to be in so we need to use this moment as an opportunity to initiate deep rooted change.
This lies at the heart of Christian faith. Faith is not about the practice of what we choose to do on a Sunday morning but how we live our lives. Jesus taught us to simply love and forgive one another.
So let’s do this and remember that #blacklivesmatter is not solely an issue of race but a deeper issue about our basic humanity.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has chosen me to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of site to the blind; to set free the oppressed and announce that the time has come when the Lord will save his people.