I clutched the scrap of paper in my hands. In the centre was a single word. This was it: the missing evidence! Now I just had to find the police officer’s phone number. I’d call her and everything would be ok. It would all work out. My heart pounded inside my chest. I could hardly believe it. The missing evidence!
Only it wasn’t. Because right at that point, heart thumping, I woke up. The missing evidence was nonsense. In reality, the CPS have decided that they could not go ahead with a prosecution due to ‘missing evidence’. Crucial records from 20 years ago have been destroyed, so I’m told.
(What’s an appropriate response to that: oops…?)
The police officer also told me that another reason for lack of prosecution was that some potential witnesses had refused to give a statement. Unless you’re very ill, dear potential witness, or similarly impaired, then frankly I hold you in contempt. Some of you are Christians. What kind of Christian refuses to help in such a small way against the perpetrator of one who emotionally, physically and sexually abused a helpless child, who gave her a life sentence? If he had left me physically paralysed, would you still refuse to act? Would it take a murder for you to say something? Is it because it’s ‘taboo’ or you just don’t want to get involved? What the hell kind of faith says ‘no’? Come to that, what the hell kind of human being says ‘no’? Turning a blind eye to evil is as bad as doing the evil, plain and simple. To not say something when you could is the same as condoning it. Shame on you!
On the other hand, to those who gave statements to the police I extend my heartfelt and warmest gratitude. I am eternally thankful.
In our 21st century ‘civilised’ culture, we live the lie that justice exists. We expect crime to bring its own comeuppance. We even tell this to our children. Only it doesn’t. Especially in the realm of sexual crime, where only 7% of reported crime results in conviction.
Seven percent ???
We might as well line ’em up and hand the perverts a license to abuse. Often they’re not even seen as perverts by the rest of society – how many times did victims ‘tell’ about what Saville did? And what happened to him? They gave him the keys to the hospital!
Justice is an illusion.
But then, I say to myself, is it ‘just’ that as of the past two months I have lived in a house with two bathrooms, two showers and three toilets, when (as my studies for my degree have shown me) a mother in Ethiopia, with a scrawny little girl just like my own, bathes her daughter with splashes of water she fetched herself, carrying on her back a 30 litre container seven times a day, walking two miles, there and back? Is it justice that she lives in a two-room mud hut with six other people when I live in a four-bed new-build with a stunning view over England’s green and pleasant land? Is it justice that with the climate changing as it is, subsistence farmers like her and her husband will find it harder and harder just to grow enough to eat – yet in my country many people refuse to even try to reduce their carbon footprint?
So what if I leave the lights on, or boil more water than I need?
So what if I don’t buy fair trade tea/coffee/chocolate/sugar/bananas?
Climate change is real. It is happening. There are things we can do as individuals (not just governments or businesses) to lessen its long term effects. But we refuse. Those who do take action are seen as hippies. Weirdos. We’re sleepwalking into catastrophe… yet we excuse ourselves from responsibility and do nothing. And the ones who will pay the most for our excuses? The poor. This too is contemptible.
If we deny justice, if we deny ‘doing the right thing’, how can we call ourselves Followers of Christ? How can we even call ourselves human?
‘What you do to the least of these, you do to me…’
One day we’ll all be held accountable. Are you going to stand on judgement day knowing that Christ says when you DON’T help the needy, you do it knowing you are not serving God? Elsewhere, Jesus talks about what happens when anyone ‘harms these little ones’. If our refusal to act harms His little ones… maybe we too deserve the millstone around the neck, to be thrown into the bottom of the sea.
Oh, the joy when we do show compassion and kindness to ‘the least of these’! The Christ in me meets the Christ in you – and both are blessed. It is THE ONLY THING WORTH LIVING FOR. Less than this is just chasing after the wind.
I ask you to ask yourself: What can I do today – each day – that will make a difference?
‘This is what we are about: we plant seeds that will one day grow. We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces effects far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realising that. This enables us to do something, and to do it well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are the workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.’
Extract from ‘Compline’, from the book ‘Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals’ by Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove
‘The Lord says to them… The kind of fasting I want is this: Remove the chains of oppression and the yoke of injustice, and let the oppressed go free. Share your food with the hungry and open your homes to the homeless poor. Give clothes to those who have nothing to wear, and do not refuse to help your own relatives.’
Isaiah 58:3, 5-7 GNT