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Faith Comment published in the Petersfield Post

23 October 2013: Rev'd Chris Williams, St Mary's, Liss Parish

Prejudice and attitude

The recent and tragic sinking of the refugee boat off the coast of Italy with a loss of over 350 lives is reported to have caused a change of heart among some Italians. 'The immigration debate is now being framed by the ghosts of Lampedusa' says one observer. This is a good thing, but how sad that it takes an awful tragedy before we connect with others as fellow human beings.

Too many of us have strong views on subjects, such as immigration, about which we may have little direct knowledge. Often our attitudes and prejudices are only changed when the objects of our fear and ignorance (a dangerous mix) become altogether more personal: through hearing a personal story, seeing an emotive image, or knowing someone personally.

It seems clear to me that we are becoming an increasingly intolerant society - often blaming the poor, the powerless and the weak for the problems we face. As I reflect on what enormous pressures caused those people to risk everything, leave their homes and cram into a tiny boat, I am forced to think more broadly about such things: to allow another person's story to affect and change me; to allow the dead of Lampedusa a voice. Jesus came with a special message of love to the poor, the oppressed, the powerless and the marginalised. Those of us who call ourselves Christian should, by definition, be seeking to imitate the one we claim to follow. What might that mean for some of our prejudices and attitudes?


This article was submitted for publication in the Petersfield Post on 23 October; it is possible that it was published earlier or may be published later.

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