On my way down to London, I’d stopped to stretch my legs and buy a sandwich at a local supermarket. It was busy and I tried to find the shortest check-out queue. I had no problem as it was very obvious; some queues had five or six people, this one had just one lady in front of me. The reason for this? The man on the checkout was from Pakistan. I refused to believe what my intuition was telling me but I wished now that I had captured the scenario on my camera. He was about the only non-white face I could see and when I said to him, “you’ve got the lucky lane it’s quiet”. He said, very graciously, “not luck sir” and gave me that look that confirmed we were thinking and witnessing the same thing. I was appalled and the memory still disturbs me and had I not been there and experienced it I would have found it hard to believe but I do know that underneath the surface of some of our communities there is ignorance, prejudice and excuse the pun, veiled racism that is a worrying feature of modern life in Britain.
It was good to be in London and to be surrounded by so many different people from such diverse ethnic backgrounds. The cosmopolitan nature of London is something I love. It reminds me of the rich diversity of God’s world and the universality of God’s people spanning every continent, race, tribe and nation. I guess I long for the day when there are many more people from different cultures journeying with the Community.
Diversity is I believe something to be welcomed for it reflects both the nature of God and the created order. It is one of the things that I love about the Community; that we are a diverse group of people, covenanted together within the love of Christ but drawn from so many different, life, church and spiritual backgrounds. Not one of us has any monopoly on the truth but we, alone and together, seek the one who is the Truth.
Recognising and celebrating such delivers the heart and mind from nationalistic, sectarian and racist attitudes. I was pretty disheartened this week to read about a café owner in the same county that I’d witness such racist attitudes, pulling up a sign which read:
She put up a sign because she was fed up with people walking out when they saw the colour of her skin!
In a similarly disturbing vein, the sight of sectarian violence erupting on the streets of Belfast in connection with the July 12 celebrations is a reminder that in the human heart there lurks the potential for hatred, violence, racism, sexism and sectarianism ~ all alien to the values of the kingdom of God and the Community’s Way for Living.