Regular columnist Philip Young urges us to offer “One Love” as we face up to the disasters that frequently beset our planet.
I don’t know about you, but I am feeling a bit bashed about by events so far this year. We are living in very uncertain and unstable times and we are in need of finding some hope and stability amongst the turbulence disturbing us.
I am worried that the United Kingdom is not very united and that many people are suffering from a general mood of depression and lack of vision for the future.
In our country this year we have had a number of tragic terrorist attacks including those on Westminster Bridge on March 22nd, the Manchester Arena on May 22nd, the London Bridge attack on June 19th and the more recent bucket bomb at Parsons Green on the Underground on September 15th.
On June 14th we woke up to the distressing news of the Grenfell Tower fire disaster. It has left many of us suspecting that the events were linked somehow to the unfair way that the poor and disadvantaged are treated. Questions remain unanswered and we have yet to see if the enquiry will face up squarely to the questions raised about social justice.
World events also have had the effect of making us feel vulnerable and bashed about. Extreme weather in Bangladesh and South Asia with the consequent flooding compounded by the influx of Rohingya refugees fleeing persecution from Myanmar. Then two hurricanes Irma and Maria bringing devastation to parts of the Caribbean and other Islands and Florida too. As if that wasn’t enough we then heard of the earthquakes in Mexico and further destruction and loss of life.
I believe there is an appropriate response to this turmoil, and all the rest that could be mentioned, and that is the message of ONE LOVE that came out loudly and clearly after the Manchester tragedy.
The above turmoil can help us wake up to the fact that we are all connected to one another and that none of us is immune from suffering disaster. In all these events it is our brother and sister human beings who suffer and who are in need of our love and help.
Love is also the central message of the Christian Faith and the higher message of all that is good in religion. Where there is hate or terror spread in the name of religion then we have to strongly state this is not a grown up or a mature religion.
In response to disasters we can see human beings at their best. We see the police and emergency services running towards danger and putting the safety of others above their own. We see communities coming together and deciding that ONE LOVE is an appropriate response. We see ordinary Mexicans coming together with the emergency teams to search in the rubble for survivors.
We need to capture and to spread this human and divine energy.
Saint Paul encourages us to have the same mind that was in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2 vv1-11). Jesus is sometimes called the man for others because he cared deeply for each one of us and particularly had time for those who were poor, disabled and disadvantaged. He had the mind of ONE LOVE.
A tragedy usually has the consequence of destroying things and pulling people apart. It is disintegrating and disabling. Death disintegrates people or literally they are even blown apart. It leaves the bereaved with lives torn apart, never to be the same again.
Our best human response is to offer ONE LOVE, which is in touch with the divine love of God. This can be in the form of aid and help to victims of disaster. It can be in the response of the community coming together to offer practical help along with loving care. In the case of Grenfell Tower we need to respond so that, in future, corners are not cut when housing is provided for the less well off.
ONE LOVE needs to be our creed and our philosophy to build a more peaceful and stable world. War will cease when we see each other as brothers and sisters living together in one world.
As I write these words the world looks very unstable as the United States and North Korea threaten each other with ever more provocative words and military maneuvers. War in North Korea would be a huge disaster and we need all the power of ONE LOVE to avoid it.
Every act of ONE LOVE has the power of being creative by bringing people together and helping us to realise that we are all connected. So we must encourage one another to practice ONE LOVE every moment of every day. Each small act of kindness and love does make a difference and can have a multiplying influence.
I came across this wonderful quote from Jimi Hendrix recently that said,
‘When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace’
Love is powerful. Love is the answer when it comes to lifting us out of a general mood of depression and it can give us a vision for the future.
Imagine a world where love is put at the centre of all that we do. We will continue to have disasters, as that is the way it is. If these disasters can draw out of us the response of ONE LOVE then we can build a better world-
A world that is in touch with God, the source of all love, for, God is love.
The image above is courtesy of https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons
Philip is an Anglican, Quaker, and a member of the Third Order of Franciscans. He now lives in Felixstowe. Until July 2014 he was the Diocesan Environmental Officer for the Norwich Diocese. In June 2017 he stood as an Independent Candidate for the General Election in the Suffolk Coastal Constituency. He is now a freelance writer on spiritual and political matters. He is available to run Quiet Days, give talks, presentations or to preach and can be contacted at email@example.com
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