There are two powerful words – love and friendship
When readers ask why such things as the Manchester tragedy happened, let me offer a few words I received from Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
At Heathrow Airport, there is St George’s Chapel across the road from Terminal Two and is used by all denominations.
One morning I attended mass while waiting for a flight and was joined by a party of nuns wearing the famous blue Indian saris and recognised as Missionaries of Charity.
Then in walked Mother Teresa and joined in the service.
At the conclusion, I told her people of the world admired her work for the poor of Calcutta and, in fact, the rest of the world.
Her reply, as she grasped my hand, was this: “It is not the lack of food or money that is the poverty of the world, but the lack of love and friendship.”
Love and friendship are powerful words and one can add prayer.
The people of Manchester set an example to the world by responding in such a supportive way.
This is an open letter I’ve sent to Michael Fallon, Secretary of State for Defence, about dangerous pacifists:
During the Today programme on Radio 4 on May 11, you made reference to Jeremy Corbyn as “essentially a pacifist, he would be a very dangerous leader of our country”.
I do not usually get excited by phrases, but the idea of “dangerous pacifists” has a real tingle factor.
There are a wide range of pacifist stances, most of which require lasting commitment, clarity of purpose and courage. The unconditional rejection of all forms of warfare is not undertaken lightly.
Just how dangerous can a pacifist be?
Mahatma Gandhi effectively defeated the British army in India.
Churchill called him “a half naked fakir” who, by eating salt, brought about the end of British rule in India.
There are many examples of major change being wrought by non-violent means.
A photograph of children fleeing a napalm attack in Vietnam was taken by Nick Ut on June 8, 1972.
After the concerns over showing full frontal nudity were overcome, the picture went on to play a major role in bringing the Vietnam war to an end. This was more powerful than the collective effect of seven million tons of bombs.
I have to ask you, what it is it that makes pacifists so dangerous?’
Light at the end of the tunnel
Watching the horrific carnage and sadness of so many families in Manchester, there were two other scenes I remember.
One was a homeless man leaving the shelter of his doorway to come forward and offer help and the other – even more poignant – an elderly lady sitting on a chair in front of the flowers, being comforted by a young Muslim man.
Later this twosome walked away arm in arm.
When interviewed later, it was discovered this lady was Jewish, and had been driven from Blackburn by this caring man from an interfaith group.
Just one small light at the end of a tunnel.