I’m praying to you but I don’t know who you are. My grandparents used to pray to God, but now lots of people say there is no such person and anyone who’s religious is just imagining it. And other people say there is, but not the one that Christians call God, the one who had a son called Jesus. They have other names for their god. Whatever, this is what’s on my mind this week.
Refugees. Not a week goes by these days without stories about people running away from their own country and going to someone else’s because it is safer and they have a better chance of living a happy life there. It’s a complicated subject, because the world is full of people whose ancestors were originally from somewhere else.
I can’t see my parents ever doing that, because we’re quite happy where we are, but if a civil war broke out and suddenly the UK wasn’t a safe place to be, a lot of people would probably choose to leave, It would have to be a pretty bad situation, though, because you’d be giving up your home, your family, your friends and your whole way of life.
And what happens when you get to this new country is that they don’t really want you there and maybe they’re a bit scared of you because they don’t know how you’re going to behave. That’s how a lot of British people are about Muslims.
There’s this comedian called Omid Djalili whose parents are Iranian, although he was born and brought up in London, so he’s familiar with both cultures. He does a sketch where he jokes about being worried when he sees Arabs at an airport.
I assume he’s joking, anyway – you can never tell with comedians. But with his background you would think he understood Muslims, but it’s the terrorists people are afraid of, and how can you tell an innocent person from someone who wants to kill people?
My Dad says it’s not all one-way, either. What is called racism in this country is usually white people being mean to black people (and now Muslims). But my Dad has been robbed more than once in broad daylight in the street in the West Indies and he thinks it’s because he’s white. I have to admit we stick out like sore thumbs in places like that because we are so obviously not local. And the criminal element just see white people who are obviously richer than they are because they can afford to fly thousands of miles and pay for hotels and taxis and meals at restaurants, so why not steal from them?
Well I’ll tell you why they shouldn’t rob my Dad: because he’s my Dad. He’s a nice man, he’s not racist and he’s not rolling in money. We’re just getting on with our lives, minding our own business.
And I suppose that’s how immigrants feel. They’re only being themselves, so why should anybody treat them differently?
Anyway, Whoever, please bless all the good people who are having to flee their own home and make a new life somewhere else. But if you could somehow make it impossible for the extremists to get out and make trouble, that would be perfect. Let them blow themselves up in private if they have to blow anything up – but preferably don’t let them want to do that sort of thing in the first place.