We are quick to name the culprits if there’s a possibility of reinforcing our prejudices.
Two instances are apparent today:
- the London riots – in this far flung outpost of the old empire we hear alarmed predictions of “how the same will happen here if we don’t stop the boats” and “just as Enoch Powell predicted.” Yet nothing I have seen or heard attributes the riots to ethnic unrest. On the contrary, I hear interviews where disaffected young people name a range of issues that affect their sense of empowerment. It has reached powder keg stage and it doesn’t take much to cause an explosion. History is replete with this sort of scenario. Kudos, by the way, to the thousands of “riot wombles” – volunteers who have appeared with broom in hand to clean up the streets and reclaim their neighbourhoods. There is always a better way than revenge and confrontation. And I must say, how wonderfully British!
- a local primary school, as a result of a survey showing 24% parental opposition, has ceased the practice of reciting the Lord’s Prayer at assemblies while it seeks further advice. Public response has been, again, to vilify foreign interlopers who “threaten our culture and way of life.” Most opposition to Christian based religious exercises, in my encounters, comes from those representing a “no faith” stance than an “other faith” position. And, whatever the reason for their disquiet, their voice needs to be heard and addressed reasonably, not hysterically.
Either side in a polarised community can fall into the trap of creating straw men to set on fire, thus diverting attention from the central issues that require further talking and listening with the purpose of finding common ground.
Of course, I could be jumping to a conclusion that common ground is common desire, couldn’t I?
4 thoughts on “Jumping to conclusions and landing on our faces…”
Always love your blog post Uncle D. I’m recommending this as a must read. Well written. Associating boatpeople with potential riots is riddiculous fear mongering. It’s also an interesting point about the rise of intolerance to religious expression in our schools when our federal parliment still opens with the Lord’s Prayer before question time.
A very distressed parent in my church came to me last week and said her daughter was in class in a public school and the teacher asked the class to name role models (dead or alive). All sorts of names went on the board from famous singers to movie stars, even the wiggles. Her daughter said ‘Jesus’. the teachers response was, ‘not everyone believes in Jesus so we won’t include him’. The parent was outraged (as was I). I would be equally outraged if a student said Mahammad, Budda or the Dalai Lama and not included them. They all have their place as role models and figures of influence alongside Jesus in our society. I migth blog about that actually…
Thanks for your comment, Mark. Do you ever feel like you’re wielding a cricket bat against all the coconuts that some critics love to shy? As long as we keep whacking the coconuts and not the heads of those who chuck ’em. School, RE & chaplains is a real can of worms right now. There’s lots of misinformation to be diffused – and a lot who are expecting more from the High Court decision than can be delivered for either side of the argument.
The Lord’s Prayer is a special part of Christian traditions and I have written reflections upon it. It is rich, succinct and beautiful. Nevertheless, I feel if it is to be used in schools of the state, a multicultural state, the fine words and traditions of other faiths should also at times be included and honoured. They also transmit good values and sharing them is a statement of respect and interfaith tolerance.
The breakdown evident in UK is multifactorial. Part is from active criminal recruiting and “evangelising”, aided by highly communicative media, filling a values void. Some say'” Where are the parents?’, and if they are there, they are probably quite unable to exercise control any more, even if they want, and many have probably tried. Such a terrible breakdown is a sad comment on the society’s functioning. Hopefully after order is restored, further heart searching will ensue.
Hey, Rod, a bit more water under the bridge and more time to reflect on the now UK wide riots vindicates your observations. A festering boil often needs lancing before it can heal – lets hope the powers that be don’t fall for political posturing by continuing to stab at the wound. Healing will come with some good community facilitation and reflection by all parties, perpetrators, victims and powerbrokers – not easy, but necessary.
The Lord’s Prayer? – couldn’t agree more – have you seen the Aramaic version?