As I began to think about what to write this month, I found myself at something of a loss. Not because I couldn’t think of anything, but because there is too much.
I am writing on the anniversary of the murder of George Floyd, and I want to write reminding us all that black lives have not ceased to matter. I am writing as we may (or may not) be emerging from the last stages of lockdown, and I would like to reflect on the ways in which Coronavirus is becoming defined by poverty, ethnicity and social exclusion. Check the map of vaccination statistics if you don’t believe me. And I am writing just after the Catholic
Bishops issued a letter on the challenges of climate change, and as preparations for COP26 are getting under way. The climate crisis has not gone away, and time is rapidly running out even for such a crisis-driven species as human beings to do something about it.
So what shall I say? Rather than focusing only on one, I have tried instead to dig out one of the common themes which seems to me to underlie all three. It’s all about justice – justice perhaps more in the biblical sense than in our law courts. It’s about justice as the restoration of God’s desire for the whole of creation, the re-ordering of what is out of joint. It is in the experience of those who suffer poverty, marginalisation, persecution and more that we see
where the world has gone wrong. That is one of the many ways in which the poor are our teachers.
The search for justice is not merely for the benefit of those who suffer, though that would be enough. It is also vital for those of us whose lives are – or seem – safe and secure. The point is being made in relation to vaccination clearly enough: no one is safe until everyone is safe. But it is also, obviously, true of our climate. Rising sea levels will sink much of South London as much as Miami or Dhaka or Vanuatu.
And it is true of racial justice also. As long as black lives matter less than white, everyone’s life is out of kilter, diminished. Only when all people are valued, as the equally and infinitely beloved children of God, is that balance restored.