Godliness... and Gary Lineker

Added about a year ago by David R. Tomlinson

GUEST BLOG: David R. Tomlinson, author of Living for Love, shares his thoughts on the Gary Lineker row and the government’s new refugee policy.

The furore surrounding Gary Lineker’s now famous tweet about the Home Secretary’s language having disturbing echoes of the 1930s Nazi regime has brought into sharp focus how we describe those taking the treacherous journey on small boats across the English Channel. Many capsize and their occupants’ corpses are washed ashore. The Home Secretary’s response to these tragedies has been to pedal pejorative stereotypes, while doing nothing to provide further opportunities for those in danger across the globe to find refuge here.David R. Tomlinson

Rather than being chastened by these deaths, there has been a hardening of the rhetoric with some calling for asylum seekers to be denied their human rights. When we undermine someone else’s humanity, we give ourselves permission to be inhumane, and risk legitimising the darker motives of the human heart. Pandering to xenophobia and a nasty nationalism adds credence to the darker agendas on offer in our political landscapes. Scapegoats and distractions from society’s injustices sometimes suit those in power. By sanctioning hatred, we make those who have fled war, persecution, and hunger a target for the kind of baying mob that gathered outside a hostel in Knowsley on Friday 10 February. We can only imagine the fear of those cowering in their rooms, listening to the violence and vandalism of those wielding hammers and shouting abuse.

How we frame the issue of those seeking sanctuary across the globe determines how we see those undertaking this perilous journey. If the steady flow of barely seaworthy vessels constitutes an “invasion”, then they are the “enemy”. Should we assert that they come illegally, we criminalize them. When we see them as only here to improve their economic outlook, they are defined as “migrants”. However, when we focus on our common humanity, we recognize their dignity, and must acknowledge that there is no simple label we can apply to define and dismiss them.

In my latest book, Living for Love: the essence of Christianity, and humanity’s only hope, I contend for the truth that each one of us is precious. Every human being is God’s representative. We are, as the Bible reminds us, made in the “image of God”. Each person is an icon of the ultimate Other. As such, they deserve not just our tolerance, or only our care, but our reverence. In their presence, we are on holy ground.

There is bound to be an element of mystery about the other. There is no way to encapsulate any person with a pithy descriptor. This should not surprise us for we know how complex we are. Each human being is “…composed of layer after layer of perceptions, reactions, expectations, memories, desires, hopes, and values. By placing people into boxes, we are denying them the truth of who they are”. But our shared humanity, allied to the universality of love’s claim, must be the ground on which the world responds to the refugee crisis, and the other emergencies we face.

International collaboration is imperative in the face of the vast number of refugees fleeing from persecution, war, and meteorological calamities resulting from the climate catastrophe; the quest for world peace must be a collaborative enterprise. For there are not multiple, independent future to pursue but only one. We can no longer avoid the vital necessity of working together to shape a sustainable and just future. This requires both international action, and all of us to see “the other” in the light of love.

When we are motivated by love, and seek love’s triumph in every relationship and context, the goals for our interpersonal dynamics and politics, local and global, become bighearted and open-handed. The cynic might call this approach naïve but the alternative is to bunker down, and hold on to the delusion of self-interest like an increasingly threadbare comfort blanket. If we become increasingly more selfish, we all lose out. Increasing division leaves us all entrenched in our positions, staring forlornly at a widening no man’s land. Further fragmentation means that greater numbers fall down the cracks between us.

The Christian faith issues a clarion call in every generation to ignore the dissenting voices and to make love our aim. Against the backdrop of a world in crisis, there is now a renewed urgency about this summons. We cannot hold back, we must grasp and hold fast to humanity’s only hope: to live for love.

You can read more from David R. Tomlinson in his recent release Living for Love. Get you copy here!

Please note: Sacristy Press does not necessarily share or endorse the views of the guest contributors to this blog.

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