I want to respond to the news that the UK has now had more than 100 000 deaths from Covid 19; I also want to respond to Holocaust Memorial Day. I’ve had several versions, but none comes out quite right. That’s possibly because I don’t really know what I’m talking about. I don’t know anyone who has died of Covid 19; I actually don’t know many people who have suffered from it. I know no-one who has survived the Holocaust, or any other genocide of our times, although the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust website has some information and stories, which are worth reading.
So why am I writing about subjects of which I know nothing? Only that it is important to change the inequalities which the pandemic has highlighted, and to stem the prejudice and discrimination which can eventually lead to genocide. The prejudice that states that I am better than another person because I have a different colour skin, a different religion, sexuality, culture … or any other means by which we distinguish ourselves from others. The prejudice that says that you are not fully human because you are who you are, because you are not me or mine.
Each person who died of Covid 19 had family and friends who mourn them; you may be among them, or you may have heard their stories on the media. Every person who died as a result of genocide also had family and friends, some of whom may have survived. Each person had their own culture and knowledge, which was lost when they died. It just seems important to acknowledge their suffering and loss. But also to try and change the prejudice and discrimination that leads to genocide, and contributes to the inequalities in our land.
I don’t have the answers. That it is important to stand up when we are aware of discrimination happening is (hopefully) obvious. That we can all acknowledge that we have our own biases, conscious or unconscious, may be less obvious, but is none the less true. In acknowledging this, we may become more aware of them, and thus less likely to react from them. Listen to yourself, and see what you hear.
I believe that God creates every person uniquely themselves; that he loves us all. So a world where prejudice and discrimination exist must be a world that grieves our Lord. Wouldn’t it be a much better world if we all responded to those we meet in the knowledge that they are beloved children of our God? Whether they are our friends or our enemies, whether they agree with us or not, whether they are like us or not, they are loved. Can we truly see that?
To respond to others in the knowledge that they are totally loved by God is a journey, as is the knowledge of how much we are loved by God. As we follow this journey, hopefully we can learn to end the ways in which we may discriminate against others, or see them as less than truly human. You may be reading this and saying ‘I don’t do that’. You may be right – congratulations! But since the Black Lives Matter protests last year, I have been trying to be more aware of my own inner attitudes, those which I have been totally unaware of, but some of which horrify me. For those of you who may have been victims of this, I am truly sorry; for anybody I have diminished, (unconsciously) discriminated against or treated as less than human, I am sorry. I am on a journey to begin changing this; will you join me?