June 2016

Cornerstones

I found myself curiously moved by the recent.Hillsborough inquest. Here indeed there had been a David and Goliath confrontation. On the one hand there was the South Yorkshire Police Force who told lies, altered evidence and did all they could to deflect the true blame. In this they were aided and abetted by various individuals and organisations, most notoriously The Sun, Edward Pearce, Boris Johnson and Sir Bernard Ingham, former press secretary to former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. And the process of vilification continued throughout the inquest process, with the South Yorkshire Police Force spending millions of pounds trying to maintain their version of events, and with a number of people, including Kelvin Mackenzie the former editor of The Sun, and Sir Bernard Ingham refusing to apologise for the part they had played in giving the police force’s allegations credibility, and with The Sun and its sister paper The Times refusing to put the story of the inquest result on their front pages.

And, of course, the object of the venom of all these people was an easy one. For it was football supporters, and, even worse than that, football supporters from Liverpool, two safe targets for the London establishment.And so safe was the target that it has taken 27 years for the truth to be fully revealed. 

And what I found most moving was to compare the cynical, self-serving way in which so many people clubbed together to peddle the lies about Hillsborough with the quiet dignity and restraint of the families and friends of the victims who have had to endure not just the loss of their dear ones but also the denigration that has been poured on them for nigh on three decades. For once the powerful have not had their way and the bullies have not silenced their victims, and we have all seen so graphically how strong the human spirit can be when it stands up for what it knows is right. And, of course, most importantly, in this case we see that justice is finally prevailing.

To perhaps a lesser extent there was a similar picture in the recent mayoral elections in London when an embarrassingly vicious campaign was launched against Sadiq Khan, the Labour candidate, simply because he was a Muslim, and the good people of London responded by electing him with a thumping majority. In this case, it is reconciliation which triumphed over the attempt to - literally - divide and rule.

The four cornerstones of the Kingdom of Heaven are peace, justice, love and reconciliation. In case alarm bells have started to ring, I am not sufficiently vapid to claim that the Hillsborough inquest and London mayoral results represent examples of Christianity in action. I would claim, however, that they are strong reminders to Christians – and, I am sure, others – that, in a world where other more self-interested values seem to prevail, the values which we are supposed to uphold can be seen to have strength, validity, power and attraction. And this makes it a timely reminder to us that we shouldn’t preach this values just in what we say, but in how we live. For if everyone in the world worked for peace, justice, love and reconciliation, how much more wonderful a world would it be to live in.


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