13th April 2022


What it must be like to be living in Ukraine today beggars my understanding – save for some infant recollections of living through the London blitz, and seeing the war damage inflicted on East London. But the conflict in Ukraine as also that in South Sudan, Eritrea, Yemen, Myanmar and other places of desperate turmoil, affects us all, not just those caught up in all the violence and injustice but all of us by situating our thinking within a state of mind which is ever contemplating violence and injustice, not that the triviality of our own communications industry – social media, television, etc – does much to nurture the soul.

But all such images and language divert our attention from other pressing concerns such as the exigency of the climate disaster we are so busily creating, indeed making it worse by apparently legitimising the further exploitation of fossil fuel energy sources, at least in the short term. Here is a problem calling for the maximum of human endeavour with an urgent need to build bridges across all political and racial divides. It demands all our energies.

When the new normal of human life is such a context of violence, and the sacrifice of truth to what is called ‘fake’, a mind-set of confusion and mistrust is created which diminishes our very humanity, and coarsens relationships and the language that draws us together. In a time of ‘wars and rumours of wars’ [Matt 24 v 6], without diminishing a prayerful sympathy for those suffering most, those of us who are wise, will stand still for a moment and take notice of what is happening to us all.

Perhaps, then it is time to heed Paul’s advice to the Philippians: ‘Finally beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things… And the God of peace be with you.’ [Philippians 4 v8/9]

John Briggs