It is amidst the post Christmas fall-out of being away from whence I find myself playing the familiar game of catch-up.
Thankfully, I was challenged last week, listening to someone suggest we concentrate on the essential issues in life, rather than just those we personally attach the label of importance to.
And also to take time out just to relax and be the person God made me to be, not the one I think I ought to be.
With that thought uppermost in my mind, I have turned a blind eye to major domestic chores, admin and the plethora of other things vying for my attention. Instead, my husband and I are making huge efforts to meet up with people we haven’t seen for ages, and take time out to do things we actually yearn to do, instead of the usual run of obligatory tasks. I’m not too sure how long I can resist the urge to do an overdue ‘Spring clean’, though I am in a new place of understanding the urge is there, and I can choose to ignore it, though I may just hoover tomorrow!
If you still count us in your circle of friends though have not seen us for far too long and would like to rectify that, now would probably be a good time to press us for a date! Please make contact. For those of you no longer wishing to see us, or think we have forgotten you, watch out – we know where you live!
Since Great Britain won the bid for the 2012 Olympics back in 2005, we have been exposed to much spoken in favour and against that event. Whichever camp you choose to be in, it would seem that hosting the Olympics here in Great Britain will have a huge effect on all our lives. Not least of which, our sense of patriotism that is aroused during such happenings as Royal weddings and state and international sporting events. Communities are being encouraged to get involved in supporting the Games and we will, no doubt, be told we can look forward to a summer of unity and harmony.
Though is that a true reflection of our country and its cosmopolitan inhabitants? Sadly, we live in a society now largely rejecting God, where culture encourages us to do whatever we want and feel is right for us as individuals, not caring about our neighbours or the consequences, and tragically perpetuates man’s inhumanity to man.
I watched with keen interest, the latest outcome of the court case into the Stephen Lawrence murder, and find myself thankful that there are people willing to investigate something until it reaches a conclusion, and those who seek justice, (Ref: Daily Mail Headline in 1997) sometimes at great personal cost.
With hindsight, for this and many other cases, one of the most important decisions Jack Straw made in his role as Home Secretary for the criminal justice system in this country was to repeal the double jeopardy law, thus allowing previously acquitted suspects to be tried for the same crime, due to new evidence becoming available. I pray this case may be pursued to its absolute conclusion and justice is done. It will not bring Stephen back, nor make amends for this abhorrent waste of life, though it may go some way to effecting changes in this race-torn country of ours.
Listening to the comments made by Stephen’s long-suffering parents, I could not fail to hope this development will help them achieve clarity and closure on the tragic death of their son, even though they may never understand so obvious a blatant and unprovoked racist attack.
I was similarly shocked and saddened recently, to watch a film entitled The Whistleblower. It is based on true accounts, reported by police officer Kathryn Bolkovac whilst serving as a peace-keeping officer in post-war Bosnia, and exposes compliance with human trafficking uncovered at the highest level of government agencies, including the UN. Were it not for a small dedicated group of people being assisted by this insider, the appalling crimes against women, young girls and children in that situation, would maybe have eluded the attention of the ordinary public.
Some of the abuse uncovered in the research was so abhorrent that Director Larysa Kondraki actually had to exclude some evidence as being too shocking to air. The tragedy is surely that it should be necessary to soften the horrors of what man is capable of doing to his fellow human being from those of us who are ignorant of this level of abuse. Why should we not be shocked by atrocities and injustices that go on outside our peripheral vision? Why should we ‘look away’ if the visial evidence becomes uncomfortable and disturbing? Equally shocking as the discovery of this level of sexual enslavement of young girls, is the revelation that some UN peacemakers and private contractors were major customers, and beggars belief. Given diplomatic immunity by the State Department when hired on, the men were never punished for their complicity in the criminal enterprise. By contrast, Bolkovac as the whistleblower was excoriated and blackballed for exposing the scandal.
Nonetheless, expose it she did, despite all efforts to thwart her. However, the price she paid has been huge. She now lives in the Netherlands working at a desk job, unable to get work with any humanitarian organisation. It’s a small community – she is infamous. I pray she may ultimately achieve meaning, clarity and closure for her selfless efforts. The alternative human condition can threaten to engulf us in remorse, bitterness and a feeling of inadequacy.
Not all injustice is weighted on one side of the coin. Sometimes we become aware of systems and protocols that disallow consideration of each individual on their own merit, merely to push through what governing bodies believe to be the best and safest solution to a social problem. In a recent drama on BBC, entitled Public Enemies, by a miscarriage of justice, and a coercive confession, a released prisoner, erroneously convicted of murder, is forced almost to the point of compliance with a lie and madness, or a return to prison, for a crime he did not actually commit, all because the probation service labels him as high risk because he attempts to proclaim his innocence only after serving 10 years for a crime he did not commit.
Finally, his probation officer takes a decision to believe him and offers help, risking her job, relationship, and reputation because she realises she is not providing a solution, but rather creating another problem. It provided a contrastive look at difficulties faced by ex-offenders, whether guilty or innocent, during their so-called rehabilitation into society. The cards are heavily stacked against them, even when they show remorse and have served their sentence. Please understand, I am not condoning acts crime, merely discovering there are major miscarriages of justice.
I have recently had the privilege of coaching a young man, who has spent time in prison for crimes committed through bad choices he made, and who sincerely wants to change the direction his life has taken. He takes responsibility for his past actions, and desperately wants to be given a new start. It has not been easy to convince organisations he has approached for further education and possible employment, of his change of lifestyle, and a sad indictment of society’s attitude towards anyone caught and punished for wrongdoing is they are often made to wear the label ‘ex-con’ for an indeterminate amount of time.
Mankind, it seems, has made noticeable distinctions between what it considers to be wrong-doings and God’s original game plan. Lies, adultery, jealousy, disrespect and malicious gossip – are just as capable of wreaking havoc, yet our culture seems to overlook or actually encourage such damaging behaviour.
So, where’s the application for my life? I’m working on seeing things from all perspectives and not just taking information on face value – I’m researching more before I make decisions or choices. Having been made aware of the plight of victims of human trafficking, I am resolved to use the internet more and do whatever small thing I can to offer help to those who are providing a voice for the abused.
Also, I am asking you, reading this, perhaps to read more and get involved. By reposting this blog to your circle of friends, it might inspire someone else to get proactive. Watch The Whistleblower, if you haven’t seen it. The least we can do is treat others the way we would like to be treated ourselves: to love our neighbours as ourselves, as God loves us; to love our world, as God loves it. We live after the fall but that doesn’t mean we cannot understand our priceless worth as human beings, or encourage others to appreciate theirs.
There is the Good News …