“There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.” – Vladimir Ilyich Lenin
You don’t need me to list the many terrifying, life-changing events that have happened over the past few months. Perhaps, like me, you wake up each morning reluctant to turn on the news, for fear of what latest atrocity will squeeze your heart and hurt your soul.
The news disempowers. We fear for our friends and relatives travelling. We fear for the world and for ourselves. And as a result we witness people we know and love behaving badly. Maybe we also do and say things which shame us.
And yet in the midst of the television images, the barrage of words, the hate speech on social media, there have been moments of grace and light. Moments that remind us anew of God’s peace which passes all understanding.
You might have seen an open letter to Pauline Hanson by Alpha Cheng, a Sydney school teacher whose father, Curtis Cheng was murdered outside Parramatta police station last October.
One Nation’s policy on Islam cites his father’s death at the hands of a 15-year-old terrorist as part of its rationale for ending Muslim immigration to Australia.
“What has happened to my family does not change my relationship with Muslims in my life,” Mr Cheng wrote.
Alpha Cheng tells Ms Hanson that he too was a victim of “the hateful and fearful attitudes that the One Nation Party promoted”.
“I remember feeling ostracised and isolated from the country and identity which I had adopted.
“I do not want the same to happen for the new ‘scapegoats’ in this extreme and simplistic view of society.
“We need to look how we can heal and build; not how we can divide and exclude. My dad was a gentle and peaceful man; his name should not be used to promote fear and exclusion.”
Media commentator and academic, Waleed Aly, also addressed how fear can rob us of our compassion. In a captivating opinion piece on Network Ten’s The Project, Waleed urged Australians to show ‘radical generosity’.
Instead of verbally attacking people for their opinions, Waleed reminded viewers that we are all coming from the same place – we are fearful – be our names Pauline Hanson, Sonia Kruger or Waleed Aly.
He urged viewers to put outrage away and “send forgiveness viral”.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)