I saw something in the media recently about the numbers of people; listening to the news on a certain well-known news programme falling. This might have been to do with more people getting their news on the internet but in fact the evidence seemed to be that people were listening to less news because it was all too depressing. That certainly struck a chord with me.
Being born in 1955, I have lived during wars in Vietnam, the Falklands, the Gulf (twice) and Afghanistan. Along with other conflicts they have all been terrible and very worrying at the time. But now I find myself worrying in a different way.
All of those conflicts were with external enemies. Now it seems that our own society is becoming much more divided. There is Brexit, of course. But extreme views seem to be much more common generally, whether of left or right; in relation to people of other faiths; or around how to tackle issues around immigration; etc. It feels like the idea of common ground that we might negotiate from has disappeared. Compromise seems to be regarded as weakness or failure. And respect for those with different views or practices is getting rarer. This trend seems to be true both nationally and internationally and it is very disturbing.
Yet at the heart of Christianity is a command to “love our neighbour with all our heart and soul and mind and strength” and the example of a man who did just that. That man, Jesus, also even told his followers to ‘love your enemy’. In a time of increasing division it is vital that all Christians and all people of good will seek to hold on to the kind of moderation and inclusiveness that does not just create winners and losers but looks to the interests and well-being of all, recognising diversity of views but looking to establish the best degree of unity which can be found. I pray we may succeed in reversing this trend. People might even feel able to listen to the news again!