Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Terrorist Attacks - an exercise in Selectivity?

The awful happenings in Brussels yesterday has seen people changing their avatars to include the colours of the Belgian flag in support for them in the face of acts of terror against an innocent people.

In fact the Church of England even offered a public prayer for Brussels:

The same prayer was offered up and placed in the media when Paris saw terrorism hit on the 7th January 2016.

Sadly though - on the 13th March 2016 - Thankfully thoughwhen terrorist attacks in Ankara claimed the lives of 37 people and saw 125 injured - the outcry, the appearance of people standing with this nation and prayers being offered up were nowhere to be found.

Four days earlier, the Church of England offered up many prayers (9th March 2016) for Syria on the resumption of UN peace talks and to draw attention on what was to be the fifth anniversary of the Syrian conflict on March 15 (two days after Ankara).

A few years back, after a Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) service, as I rubbed shoulders with the great and the good as they munched the sandwiches and drank their tea and coffee, I was drawn into a conversation with some of what I had, until then, considered to be some of the brighter people of our community. The discussion centred on the awfulness of genocide and how events like HMD were, "So very distressing."

One of those in the group made the observation, "Thank goodness we don't have genocide anymore!"

Without thinking I jumped in and pointed to the atrocities that were Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur and the genocide that surrounds us in recent history - that are going on today. The comment that came back from the, until then assumed 'bright' person, shook me to the core:

"Oh yes, but when we said 'Never Again' we meant in Europe!"

Thankfully, rather than make a scene I chose to walk away - but I often wonder, when I see prayers for Paris, Belgium and places close to us in Europe whether singling one place out for prayer whilst ignoring the plight of others is really communicating something positive about us.

After all - didn't Jesus tell us that even the wicked pray for their friends?

I was drawn to Matthew 5. 43-48 and the words:

 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’
   But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
   so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. 
   For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the 

   For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?
   Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
   And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? 
   Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
   You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

Now please don't misunderstand me - I am as grateful to see prayers for Syria, Paris and Brussels as I am sad to see that there is a need for them. BUT  we need to have balance and perspective.

As I write this I see that there have been 96 terror attacks around the world.

They have taken place in Iraq and Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. Places that are just not as 'sexy' in terms of media attention as Europe and perhaps Israel and Palestine (for they are old news now aren't they?).

So when we pray - pray for the whole world - Please.

ps. Not a pop at the C of E or anyone - just a point as to how easy it gets to become just a little myopic.

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