Monthly Archives: July 2015

Silent Witnesses

Sometimes being peacemakers is about grand gestures and loud voices. Sometimes it is about powerful people making difficult choices. And sometimes it is about the tiny gestures in the places where we are. The outstretched hand, the smile at a stranger, the cup of tea. The choice to love instead of judge, to forgive instead of retaliating. Sometimes peace needs to be loud. Sometimes whispered. Sometimes silent.

Silent Witnesses

These are the silent witnesses

Who stretch out a hand in love, Who feed the hungry so that they can live Who teach the young so that they can grow Who create a space so that you can be you And I can be me

These are the silent witnesses

Whose message is one of love That tells the forgotten ones they are not forgotten And the unlovely they can still be loved Whose message is shared in a smile A spark of the joy of life

These are the silent witnesses

Who say there is more to life Turning away from economic profitability Trusting rather in human value Who say You cannot put a price on love

These are the silent witnesses

Who say Though I cannot do it all Yet will I do what I can Who know they offer only a gesture But know that gesture is already enough The gesture that says I care The gesture that we call love

These are the silent witnesses

This is the silent witness Arms stretched wide on a wooden cross With a sigh of lonely abandonment And a waiting in silent love

We are the silent witnesses To the mystery of our faith.

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Long view on the Kindertransport

Between 1938 and 1940 10,000 unaccompanied Jewish children came to the UK, fleeing persecution in Nazi Germany and other occupied countries.   This was organised under the “Kindertransport” scheme, organised by British Jews and Quakers. The children were hosted by British families or stayed in hostels.   Many stayed in the UK after the end of the war as their families had been killed in the holocaust.   Although there could be some criticisms of the scheme (when they reached 18 some children became homeless as they were forced the leave the hostels, or were imprisoned as “enemy aliens”) the compassion that the British people and government showed these children is in sharp contrast to what we observe nearly 80 years later.

The Jewish people spent much of their history fleeing persecution and seeking asylum in new lands.   Quakers believe that all people are equal in the eyes of God and this informs their approach to refugees.   Both these two religious groups and many others are still fighting for the rights of refugees.   But their requests are not well received in a society that seems to want to make immigrants the scapegoat.   I’m sure social historians can explain the gradual shift in public attitude, but for now I want to remind British people and politicians that we used welcome strangers into our land as the Bible asks us to do.