For some people they have lived in the valley all their life, for others they have moved every few years. When I left education it was expected that we should enter a profession for life. Now, for many, we can move between jobs to gain additional opportunities, despite that causing possible difficulties with stability. But that might be my traditional views leaking out… It can be so difficult to relinquish our old views.

How can we live with others if we continue to hold fast to those old views?

We now may live in an area with a diverse array of communities, cultures and/or religions. All those people are facing the circumstances of employment, balancing expenditure with income, but still often we look to identify groups of people by classification. Why?

I have written before about Yorkshire dry walls which fit so well together without any additional additives. The stones fit together despite being odd shaped, sometimes, often, rough hewn lumps of stone. Over the passage of time the rocks appear to become locked together.

Today as I looked up from Malham Cove I noticed the array of fields joined by these dry stone walls.

Initially all I could see was the hillside but then the walls became visible. They linked the different sized fields together. Back from my school days I thought of the word ‘tesselate‘ describing how the fields were linked with no gap between.

Yet today also we hear of a mother whose nationality had been revoked.

The bile on social media which has ensued is astonishing. Many people can ‘judge’ others based upon the media coverage and conjecture. Grasping at opinions such as ‘gaining access to the NHS‘ and ‘not being suitably appalled at bombings in the UK‘ is sufficient, it would seem, for a guilty verdict. What if she was our daughter and the Government made a decision, without possible precedent, so that their nationality was removed, making them stateless. Ignoring the possibility that the Government may be seeking to make a bold political move, especially with the emotive topic of immigration within #brexit, which may further stir up xenophobic tendencies amongst some people, what are the implications of such a ruling for the future?

Assyrian and Babylonian gods were those who needed sacrifice to please them. God is different: God wants to forgive, to care for the marginalised, to love the oppressed. In Hosea it reads “I will heal their disloyalty; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them” (14:4). If our God forgives, can we?

As Christians should we seek to banish people or to provide them with safe harbour?

Can we let people live with us, side by side, even if they hold different beliefs, come from different cultures? Look at the opportunities to learn, to grow in understanding and to share our thoughts!

Can we look upon the land and see the beauty?

Just as we can see the wonder in the countryside despite the walls which are only seen if we look very closely, can see wonder in all humanity? I hope so.

Here’s a letter from a wonderful friend and colleague, one I’ve used to write my own letter of protest

This is the letter I have just emailed to Sajid Javid – feel free to use and send to his departmental office at:

19th February 2019

Dear Mr Javid

I am extremely disappointed that you have taken the decision to revoke the citizenship of the British teenager, Shamima Begum. I appreciate that as Home Secretary your primary duty is the protection and security of the nation, however, the message you are sending is that once radicalised, it is impossible to undo that harm. Indeed, I consider that the revocation of Shamima’s passport will only cause further division between communities.

Shamima was a vulnerable child when she left the UK to travel to Syria. St the age of 15, legally the UK would consider her incapable of providing consent for the marriage she entered. Inevitably she was subject to further radicalisation and anti-western propaganda and of course she absorbed this. It is therefore entirely understandable that she was not expressing any regret or remorse – her child’s brain would still be highly influenced by the lies told to her about how deserving the UK was for incidents such as the Manchester Arena bombing.

Shamima has suffered extreme trauma during her time in Syria. The death of two of her children would result in serious harm to her mental health, and now the birth of her third child places her yet again in a vulnerable category. She reached out to the one place of safety, her homeland, and you have rejected her and castigated her as stateless along with her young child. Her child is now at grave risk given the devastating conditions in the refugee camp where they reside.

Instead, you could have arranged for her to come home, to face the consequences of her actions and to be rehabilitated back into British society, ensuring the safety and wellbeing of both her and her baby. But you have chosen a different path, pandering to the lowest common denominator of marauding racists. You could have chosen to act with humanity and compassion, and I feel bitterly disappointed.

Yours sincerely

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