Suddenly we’re all talking about community and that’s good, apart from the fact that we’re talking about it because of the tragedies of recent weeks.
The terrible fire of Grenfell Tower, the attacks in London and Manchester, they have shown us that we all have huge compassion for people who are suffering and grieving.
But I was struck this morning by a tweet from the Catholic Church about faith leaders encouraging us to “make friends with people of other religions. ” The sentiment is good, but how sad that it is necessary to say this at all. I understand that faith is a source of identity and part of who many of us are and that appreciating that and also our differences, is good and important. But I am also sad that we have lost sight of the fact that we are all just human beings trying to do the best we can for our families and ourselves.
How sad that it takes tragedy for us all to stop and appreciate that.
We owe it to the victims and their families of #GrenfellTower that at the very least, their devastating loss will lead to more understanding and resolve on the part of those who can. To build bridges with those on the margins of society, because right now, the divisions are too great.
I’m just thinking about a review I read for last Sunday’s episode of #Poldark (and as much as I’m enjoying it, I have to agree that this adaptation is too “soapy”. )
It talks about the drabness and poverty of the tin-mining community and the reviewer says, ” Coming from the South West, I can vouch that this was actually what Cornwall was like, until 1998. And incidentally, it is what it could well become again.”
I would argue that sadly, it is already doing so.
Last week, I went to Callington and I met some amazing people at a volunteer-run community pop-up cafe. It’s every Thursday in a bungalow tucked away on an estate on the edge of town. It was difficult to find but worth it because the welcome and friendship was there in abundance.
I met some amazing people who are just quietly getting on with soothing and binding their community, providing links and reaching out to those who are fortunate enough to know they are there.
And I heard a story which I keep thinking about……. a local man who walked 11 miles from Callington to Launceston along a main, fast, road with no pavements, because he needed to go to the job centre. He had no alternative because if he hadn’t made the appointment, he would have been sanctioned and probably would have lost his financial lifeline. The bus fare was an impossible, unaffordable £8.
This is reality of rural poverty.
How is this acceptable?
I also heard this week of families who have to rent beds and mattresses because they are unable to afford the outright payment for this most basic of items.
And for me, it highlights again, the inequality in our society.
It is not new and referencing Poldark again, look at the affluent Warleggans and the opulence of their homes compared with the grim, pinched and drab mining families. This division has been with us for centuries and it is there today wherever you look, especially in #Cornwall.
But it has been highlighted so cruelly this week at Grenfell Tower. London is an incredible place and we can all be proud that it is one of the most diverse, inclusive cities in the world, but when you see such wealth next to areas in which people are struggling to make ends meet, it can’t be right.
But our divisions are everywhere, in our language, in our response to one another.
I am guilty…. on Saturday I went to the Truro Cathedral Choir Summer Concert. It was very beautiful, but in the interval I went to the steps of the building to get some air and a man was lying there. He was homeless and worse for wear. The vergers were there but my first instinct, to my shame, was to return back to the sanctuary of my seat and leave it to somebody else to deal with. But thinking about it later it made me realise what a stark image it was. The grandeur and ceremony of the Cathedral playing host to the ” acceptable” and the man who was lost and desperate but not permitted across the threshold.
The division and inequality of our society once again.
We see it all the time, it is ” World Refugee Day” but sadly more people have lost their lives crossing the Mediterranean today. But look at the way articles are written about the situation….. I can’t bear the word, migrant. I appreciate it might be accurate in some cases according to the dictionary, but it has taken on derogatory overtones.
It highlights again the divisions in our world.
I am sad, sad that we are still talking about this and I’m sorry.
I’m sorry because we can all talk and write and express our outrage at the situation, but talk is not what is needed, it is action. But what?
In my humble opinion, I think that it all needs to start with ourselves.
We need to be honest with ourselves. Deep down we need to challenge ourselves and our preconceived opinions about others.
We need to stop judging others and we need to recognise that if we are fortunate enough to be ok, many of our neighbours are not.
We need to be like the volunteers at the Callington pop-up cafe, who do so much, completely under the radar, for no recognition.
And we need to make sure that the compassion and regard for community we are seeing now is not a short term response to devastating tragedy, but something which becomes the norm.
We owe that at the very least, to the victims of Grenfell Tower.
Thank you for reading this.
On a lighter note, I went to Chapel Porth this afternoon, to channel my inner Poldark, here are some photos!