Hands Together, Southend Against Hatred
“Project Southchurch” and “Twenty One Southend” are two local entities (check out their Facebook pages, here and here for more info). I hadn’t heard of either a week or so ago but both are to be commended. For this past Friday, Project Southchurch hosted a “Southend Against Hatred” event held at Twenty One, Southend’s cultural and community cafe venue on Southend Seafront (and because I couldn’t find it first time, despite knowing my town (so I thought), I should mention it is dead opposite Adventure Island’s Ferris Wheel on the other side of the road, by the bottom of the glass lift and 50 metres from the Pier ticket office). It brought together many of Southend’s good and great from the faith and various statutory and voluntary groups and humbler types like me, declaring we are united against hatred (in the light of David Amess recent murder). It was a positive occasion and I met up with old friends and some new ones. Part of the proceedings was to sign the “Southend Against Hatred” declaration. I hope this bodes well to how we go on from now as a town that thanks to David is now a city.
I have a reservation though – talk is cheap! Don’t get me wrong – making this gesture of solidarity is a lovely idea if carried through in practice, especially as the opposite to hate is love and we all know how important love is – right!? But I have seen too many examples of hate (sometimes under the subtle veneer of civility) not to speak up (and no, I am not going to name and shame). I was interested to be reminded today of a meme posted on my Facebook page, five years ago and, since it relates, an article concerning the organisation “Hope not Hate”, which while purporting to do something similar to Southend Against Hatred seems often to delight in demonising those who did not share their left leaning views (and it happens with the right too). Among the lovely tributes to David Amess (see here for mine) were those who credited him for doing stuff that would have met the approval of most who signed the Hands Together declaration, but went out of their way to say they disagreed with his politics. My point is, we are all entitled to our own political, religious and ideological views and provided not hateful then these should be respected. I have lived in Southend much of my life and while not wanting to blow my own trumpet I have tried to contribute to the betterment of Southend’s diverse community and witnessed first hand what others have achieved. Ideally, the best way forward is for its often disparate elements to work together. I hope Friday’s event will lead to actions speaking louder than words and the future Southend City will be a fitting legacy to the work of David Amess.