“How much will it be,” we asked the taxi driver, “to travel from our hotel to Stamford Bridge?” on our recent excursion to London. Pamela had booked a tour of Chelsea football ground and then a meal at ‘Frankies’, named after Frank Lampard but we were staying in the Holborn district and wanted a quicker way to get to the ground.
“It depends.” replied the driver, “The traffic is chaotic and roads are closed because of the protests of Extinction Rebellion.”
Sure enough, the driver had to take a detour to try and avoid the likes of Trafalgar Square. Similarly, when we came out of the show ‘Wicked’, the protesters had an influence on the journey time and the cost.
I’m quite sure you are aware of Extinction Rebellion, especially after the recent clashes at various tube stations on what seems to be a far more environmentally favourable way to travel. They too are looking at costs: costs to the environment, costs to the climate and costs to our world. As people try, like the taxi drivers, to carry on with their everyday lives, the protesters display the cheery banners – “ Business as usual = death.”
They are persistent in causing a commotion to try to make governments and us all sit up and listen to the dangers of the world we are destroying but oblivious to the charge that they are being hypocritical as they drive away in their gas-guzzling cars after a demonstration or a holiday abroad. They will tell us that we are all hypocrites, claiming one thing but doing another.
Interestingly, the Gospel story for Sunday’s service on the 20th October was about persistence. It is a story about a widow and the despair she finds herself in and her plea for justice which is eventually granted.
At the heart of this short parable is a woman acting with determination and tenacity, despite the difficulties she faces and her persistence is eventually rewarded and the parable closes by drawing a parallel to us, inviting similar perseverance in our petitions to God.
There are mixed feelings regarding Extinction Rebellion: not necessarily about their message, but the way they have gone about it. We know, from our trip to London, how often we chose to walk to Madame Tussauds near Baker Street station and the super West-End show Miranda off Leicester Square rather than take public transport.
The walking did us the world of good, despite the rain.
This is also the month when we need to persist in remembering.
It is very easy to, if I can use the protesters slogan, carry on ‘business as usual’. We need to persist in stopping, reflecting and considering not just what we are doing to our world but what we are doing to each other and the cost, the human cost to us all.
The Japanese theologian Kosuke Koyama in his book ‘Three Mile an Hour God’ wrote, ‘Love has speed. It is a spiritual speed. It is the speed we walk and therefore the speed the love of God walks.’
“How much will it cost us to get to Stamford Bridge?” we asked.
“How much will it cost the world to move from A to B?”
“How much will it cost us to make our world safer?”
We know part of the answer as we mark the conflicts at Armistice Time. We need to slow down and go for a walk and remember what others have done to try and give us better todays.
Your friend and minister,