More than the absence of war. On partitions, division and being children of God…

Another Thought for the Day from the Creative Fool this morning. If you missed it, you can catch up here, at 01:22:44 but if you just want to read the text, it’s printed below.


Good morning.

I have a friend who writes books. She told me that she was shocked recently when a child who had read one of her stories set in 1990s’ Albania asked “whether all her novels were historical fiction”. Events in the book, so current in her memory, were ancient history to a 10 year old.

I’ve been reminded of this in the lead up to the anniversary of the Partition of India in 1947. The enforced division of communities by the outgoing British colonial government created an atmosphere of hatred and suspicion of the ‘other’. The ensuing mass migration of people, and the killing of hundreds of thousands, led to heartbreak for many families. Interviews with Scots of Indian and Pakistani origin sharing their experiences reveal the pain of many whose lives were irreparably changed by events that seem like ancient history.

Closer to home, in 1947 Europe was piecing itself back together after the bloody conflict of the Second World War, another struggle marked by mass migration, violent conflict and religious hatred. It all seems so long ago, a different world.

Yet, events in Charlottesville, Virginia, belie the idea that we are wiser, more sophisticated, more tolerant than we once were. Charlottesville is simply the focal point for today’s news cycle, an illustration of what we know to be true all over the world, that when suspicion and prejudice turn to violence, pain ensues for many.

Why can’t we learn from history? Why don’t we choose to build bridges rather then partitions and walls? The psalms instruct the reader to flee from evil and pursue peace, and Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God.”

Peace, as Albert Einstein said, is not merely the absence of war, but the presence of justice, of law, of order.

When living memory becomes ancient history, surely you and I will want to be remembered as peacemakers, not as those who stayed silent.