You who dwell in the garden with friends in attendance,let me hear your voice.
Song of Songs 8:13
Last week’s Reflection spoke of our need for silence in which to reflect and to pray, but sometimes we need to speak out. This is not a political blog, but I make no apology for saying that as Christians we are called to speak out against social injustice in any form; especially on behalf of those unable to do so for themselves.
For example, there is conclusive evidence that the increased number of hurricanes that have recently devastated parts of the Caribbean and the US are the result of global warming – man’s abuse of the fragile earth of which we are stewards. In Siberia large areas of permafrost are melting producing quantities of methane that will damage the planet. Yet still there are those who deny its existence. But the need to diminish our carbon footprint is obvious. We can reduce our demand for fossil fuel by taking the bus, cycle or even walk instead of using the car, for example. But it is vitally important that we speak out against those who deny the existence of global warming, whoever they are.
BUT equally, we are called to speak out against those who incite violence, racial or religious hatred or intolerance of any kind. The love of our neighbour calls us to stand up in defence of our fellow man when he cannot. If we do not, then who will? Remember the words of Martin Niemöller (1892–1984), a prominent Lutheran pastor who emerged as an outspoken public enemy of Adolf Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Various versions of the quotation, which stems from Niemöller's lectures during the early post war period, exist, but his point was that Germans—in particular, he believed, the leaders of the Protestant churches—had been complicit through their silence in the Nazi imprisonment, persecution, and murder of millions of people. Though there has recently been a worrying rise in support for far right in various guises, hopefully we have moved on from those terrible times. But evil still exists, everywhere: - ‘Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.’ 1 Peter 5:8 NIV - and there is a constant need for us, as Christians, to speak out against it, whenever and wherever it raises its ugly head. Are we afraid to do so? Take comfort in the Lord’s word to Moses: ‘Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say’ Exodus 4:12 NIV.
Peter is a father and a grandfather who has been retired from full time employment for a number of years