One of the stories in my mixed bag of Facebook posts today was one recognizing it is 100 years to the day when nurse Edith Cavell was shot by the Germans for spying. It was posted by one of the many groups I belong to: Hope Not Hate, and it got me thinking what their motive was for doing so. Given her efforts to help hundreds of Allied soldiers to escape from Belgium, during World War 1, it might be said she helped to give hope to many, and those who killed her were motivated by hate. While it is true what she did was more than her nursing role required and arguably it was politically motivated, one commentator got it right when he said: “to me she seems to embody the Good Samaritan. Edith risked her own life over nine months to help men who came to her with no way home”. A further and heartwarming story in today’s e-postbag titled: “Faith under fire: The astonishing story of Edith Cavell, shot 100 years ago today“, reinforces the hope not hate view of this remarkable lady.
I have been getting “Hope Not Hate” posts for a year or so now, and find many helpful and cover a diverse range of stories. I also got to think about them when one of their representatives took part in the “Southend Welcoming Refugees” event I blogged about a few days back. I believe they may yet play an important part in the giant jig saw in winning over hearts and minds, away from ignorance and prejudice and a charity begins at home fixation, to do more for the large number of Syrian and nearby countries refugees, living in appalling conditions. About their goals, I refer to their website:
“HOPE not hate exists to provide a positive antidote to the politics of hate. We combine first class research with community organising and grassroots actions to defeat hate groups at elections and to build community resilience against extremism. Hate is often the consequence of a loss of hope and a political articulation of despair, but given an alternative, especially one that understands and addresses their anger, most people will choose HOPE over hate. Our job is to expose and undermine groups that preach hate, intolerance and division whilst uniting communities around what they have in common. Building a society that celebrates rather than scapegoats our differences.”
Being the skeptic that I am, while I believe they can play an important part responding to the refugee crisis, among many other issues, I tend to feel they would do better if they were political (and religious come to that) neutral. For what is required above all and immediately is a humanitarian response to the current crisis and while politics and religion do have a part to play (politics for forming ideology and influencing policy and religion for providing a reason for living and rationale behind such notions as “love your neighbor”) this may be a time to bring together those interested parties of all shades of politics and religion, given there is strength in unity.
It could be that Hope Not Hate may claim neutrality but having trawled through their website and Facebook page I have seen a disproportionate number of posts knocking UKIP compared with other political parties. While I will not dispute in many cases they had a point but that might also be said of other parties. The truth is that some of the people who support my work among the homeless are UKIP supporters and they are because they believe the EU is corrupt and shouldn’t control the UK, multi-culturalism has taken over from British heritage, political correctness has come to stifle free speech and the UK does take in too many economic migrants. Ironically, UKIP have in the past made the distinction between economic migrants and asylum seekers and made the point our being lax in taking in the former group in the past has made life difficult for the latter group in the present, and it is they who have argued that No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) immigrants should be able to work. On the other hand, this may be the time for ideologically different groups to come and work together.
As I have been at pains to point out in the past, I am not a UKIP supporter any more than I am a supporter any other party. I am a bloody minded pain in the backside to be sure, because it irks me that an organization like Hope Not Hate, with all its good intentions and potential to do good, has a political agenda I don’t happen to agree with, and why I cannot fully support all that they do. Going back to the Edith Cavell “Good Samaritan” point, I wholeheartedly support the words of Jesus who told the story of the Good Samaritan and agonise I may not be doing enough or doing it smartly enough. The Good Samaritan helped someone in great need, not from his tribe, since he was a member of the human race and understood what was needed when it came to loving one’s neighbours, and so should we regarding the desperate plight of millions of refugees.