Six week until Christmas; unbelievable. I have written a list of cards I need to send. I’m going to Northern Ireland for a week at the start of December, so I think it’d be a good idea to get at least some cards written before I go. The price of stamps is a major incentive to cull the list, but it still seems very long. I have put the letter e by a number of names, meaning I shall send e-cards. Another group come under the delivered-by-hand option, but since the Post office has been privatised I am less and less keen to boost the bank accounts of share holders.
But at times like these it’s also important to keep in touch, to remember our shared humanity, our overseas friendships, to write a line or two to people who we like but seldom see. The most dystopian forecaster probably wouldn’t have come up with the past twenty-four months. Refugees continue to arrive traumatised and exhausted in leaky boats meant for far fewer people on far shorter journeys. Reports of attempted genocide, with footage for proof flood our screens when we watch the news. Allegations of sexual abuse, of men using superior power to manipulate and control women in the film industry fill acres of newspapers.
It’s all about power. It’s all about who thinks he/she/they is able or has the right to control others. Look at Grenfell Tower. People with the power to prevent this tragedy thought more about saving money, they are still planning to redevelop the area reducing the number of people in social housing and attracting investors, money, status. Still with Grenfell Tower look at the stories that were spread about residents who were illegal immigrants, unofficial tenants. None of these stories has been proved to be true. So who spread them, and why? It seems all too likely that this was a cynical attempt to somehow shame the people who died – they were here under false pretences; they shouldn’t even have been in the flats; therefore they were guilty, and if they were guilty our sympathy can be less, our compassion can be rationed, really they deserved their fate. Only they didn’t. No one deserves to die like that, no one deserves to die from neglect, because make no mistake, this was neglect. No one deserves their neighbourhood to be shamed and abused by a national press that wants to make the people who died and those who survived somehow less than the rest of us.
The story of Christmas, whether you believe it or it, whether you are Christian or not, is one of hope, one of redemption and of love. The idea that a baby can be born and that baby, helpless, an exile, homeless, can save us all demands our humility and that we recognise that high or low, rich or poor, men or women, black or white, we are all human; that not one of us is the child of a lesser god and we all deserve justice.