I do have faith. Not in any god or gods, but in people. Sometimes that’s hard to sustain. It gets bashed about a lot, and this last week it has been kicked in the teeth and the guts.
Sometimes hanging on to one’s faith is an act of will. I refuse to despair of humanity. I refuse to believe that hate will win.
That’s not based on some rose-tinted view of the world, some sanitised suitable for small children version of history. I am currently reading the late David Cesarani’s book on the Final Solution. I have read so many accounts of the Holocaust and of the Rwandan genocide. I know what human beings can do to one another.
But I also know, from those same accounts that there are always people who stand up to be counted, people who risk their lives to protect others. I know there are people for whom love and compassion are such powerful principles that they will act upon them even when the whole of their society seems to be in opposition. Everywhere that there is hate, there is also love.
The poison that seeps out daily from the front pages of some of our tabloids, that oozes from the comments below the line on any newspaper article about refugees/migrants, has its effects. If people only ever hear that message, why would they not begin to believe it? Who hasn’t been told, by a stranger or a family member, that we aren’t allowed to celebrate Christmas any more? (I was told that on Christmas Day, in a room filled with the usual festive debris, after a splendid traditional Christmas dinner, so there you go). Or that Sharia law is now in force here, or that ‘they’ can jump the queue for housing, benefits, etc. In the face of all the evidence, these lies take hold, as lies so easily do when they tap into deep insecurities and fears. Insecurities and fears that are nurtured and fed every day.
In the face of the lies we have to keep speaking and showing truth. In the face of hate we have to keep speaking and showing love. In the face of the horrors that seem to happen daily – in Paris, in Kuda, in Orlando, in Birstall – we have to keep speaking and showing faith.
Keep on keeping on.
Sometimes – Sheenagh Pugh
Sometimes things don’t go, after all,
from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel
faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don’t fail,
sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.
A people sometimes will step back from war;
elect an honest man, decide they care
enough, that they can’t leave some stranger poor.
Some men become what they were born for.
Sometimes our best efforts do not go
amiss, sometimes we do as we meant to.
The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
that seemed hard frozen: may it happen for you.
Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day (E B White)
Theirs is a land with a wall around it
And mine is a faith in my fellow man…
Sweet moderation, heart of this nation
Desert us not, we are between the wars
(Billy Bragg, Between the Wars)
We are building up a new world.
Do not sit idly by.
Do not remain neutral.
Do not rely on this broadcast alone.
We are only as strong as our signal.
There is a war going on for your mind.
If you are thinking, you are winning.
(Flobots – We are Winning)
The simplest and most important thing of all: the world is difficult, and we are all breakable. So just be kind
Caitlin Moran – How to Build a Girl
If there’s no great glorious end to all this, if … nothing we do matters … then all that matters is what we do. ‘Cause that’s all there is. What we do. Now. Today. … All I want to do is help. I want to help because I don’t think people should suffer as they do, because if there’s no bigger meaning, then the smallest act of kindness is the greatest thing in the world.
Joss Whedon – Angel
We are, almost all of us, in the flesh merely odd shaped, damp-eyed vulnerable human beings in constant need of love. There is, we must remember, more love and unity than hate in this world. Sometimes it takes a death to force us out into the streets and admit it