Monday, March 14, 2016

Commonwealth Day

Today is Commonwealth Day.

The British Empire was built on the two pillars of piracy (stealing what belongs to others, just because we can) and paternalism (believing that we know better than others what is best for them) (both enjoying a late revival in Westminster at present). Nonetheless, as the Commonwealth of Nations shows us, however imperfectly, by the grace and mercy of God these things can be transformed into partnership. Oppressed and oppressor can be freed together (an ongoing process), enemies can become friends (and this gives hope for other contexts).

Today I give thanks for all my friends from Commonwealth nations, both colonial and indigenous - and, indeed, mixed - in heritage.

May the sun continue to set on an empire on which it once never set. And may the sun continue to rise on commonwealth friendship.

At Morning Prayer, reading from Hebrews 11: a list of people whose faith enabled them to endure, subvert, and stand against their circumstances, in hope that their descendants would have a better future.

Feels appropriate today.

In the square overlooking the Houses of Parliament, alongside statues of British politicians including Winston Churchill, are statues of South African colonial and post-colonial leaders, Jan Smuts and Nelson Mandela; and the father of India, Mahatma Gandhi.

Smuts and Gandhi disagreed strongly, but had a deep mutual respect for one another. Churchill treated Gandhi with contempt.

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