Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Saturday, July 26, 2014

A troubled world

I have always been taken with the picture of Jesus crying over Jerusalem.  Luke has two stories of him looking over the city and weeping.  In one he pictures himself as a mother hen longing to gather the people under her wings. In another he says, "would that you would know the ways of peace." I am not like Jesus but I find myself with a lump in my throat over people in this world.
Ukraine and Gaza 
The situation in Ukraine has been highlighted again with the shooting down of the Malaysian Airliner. It is really sad this ongoing conflict in an area which cannot financially afford the destruction of war. My guess is that it will go on for a long time yet with many lives destroyed or deeply disrupted.
The situation between Israel and the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip is shocking. The local paper in the UK had photos of boys playing football in the sand. The next photo was of the same boys running for their life, and the caption said "a few seconds later they were dead," blown to pieces by an Israeli rocket. Places where the UN are sheltering families have been attacked. It seems merciless murder in the extreme. 
Moslems and the West
I have been both annoyed and reassured by the fact that in so many places I and my bags have been scanned. At Edinburgh Airport, visiting the "Shard" in London, at Madame Tussauds. Again and again I have been reminded of the possibility of terrorist attacks. At railway stations there are warnings about unattended luggage, there are no rubbish bins because "a bomb could be placed there". When we drove  past a mosque the other day, my social worker friend told of unrest and intimidation in the area surrounding the mosque. There are always reminders of the tension between the West and Moslem nations.
New Zealand sadnesses
Unable to watch New Zealand news reports I have devoured reports on the internet. A teenage boy is killed, he is unlicensed, affected by alcohol and driving on the wrong side of the road. In this one accident, with injuries to others, three families have had life shaken. Stupid, heartbreaking and tragic.  With a growing gap between rich and poor, the main politicians leading up to an election are playing juvenile political games, seemingly uncaring that so many are dumped on the scrap heap of life. There continue to be domestic abuse cases, murders and tragic stupid deaths. 
Of course there are more troubled spots and tragedies that I could go on about but I ache with sadness over the troubled world we live in. On Tuesday we spent time with a very distant relative of my wife in Biddenden, an area where one branch of her family came from. We were talking over the history of the area where at one time french prisoners of war had been kept, and badly treated. Later german POW's were kept around here and he remembered them as a boy. We got talking about wars, past and present and how it never seems to stop. "We in Britain have fought just about everybody at one stage or another!" he said.  Shaking his head he went on, "Life has enough challenges to face without having wars as well. Why can't people live and let live?"  Lately I have been really feeling the sadness of the troubled world we live in and wondering "why?"   
Made Real to me..
Yesterday was my wife's birthday so we went shopping in Edinburgh.  Jean went into a charity store to rummage through the clothing, while I "people watched" outside. All of a sudden I was aware that I was surrounded by men and women in muslim attire. I looked and next to the shop there was a lane leading to a mosque. Obviously some gathering had finished and the crowd was slowly dispersing. Some were wearing tee shirts protesting the Gaza situation. But there were lots of them, well over a hundred men went passed me. I must admit to feeling intimidated, they looked somehow serious and angry. (mind you many Scots look that way too?) I stood there trying not to stare as they kept going past talking in some foreign tongue. A number of women came out in a full or partial burka. As they thinned out I noticed a group of young guys stopped in front of a cafe, and they were looking at me.  They were talking among themselves and looking at me. "Perhaps they are wondering why I am loitering here?" I wondered to myself.  I felt uncomfortable and longed for my wife to stop her exploring.   I felt intimidated enough to move on down the road a bit and hang around there waiting for my wife, rather than be "in their face".  Just a small illustration of the distrust we feel toward each other, even though I claim to be an open minded, tolerant, non-racist guy. We do live in a troubled world. "Would that we would know the ways of peace." 

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