Thursday, 23 May 2013

Woolwich: An Open Letter to our Staff

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I know all of us will have been shocked to see the news from Woolwich. I woke up this morning with feelings I had not felt since the riots. Faced with division in our country, I felt again that numbing sense of disbelief, coupled with mourning and sadness at the reality followed by an overwhelming desire to find a way to make it better.

 

Over the coming days, the country will go through much soul-searching. Why did this happen? What has happened to our country? How did this happen in broad daylight? Who were these men and how did they become like this?

There will be many who look for someone to blame. A scapegoat will be sought to reassure us that someone is at fault. That something can be done.

In this search for a scapegoat, people will turn to that which is unfamiliar. That which they do not understand. Some on the far right will do this deliberately – seeking to breed division and hatred. But most will not. Instead, lost, confused and fearful, they will simply follow – placing the blame on a community they do not know or understand. It is this lack of understanding, of distance and disconnection that should worry us the most. And call us to action.

For there has rarely been a day when our mission – to build understanding and friendship across our communities – was more obviously needed in this country.

What Woolwich – and the reaction to Woolwich – shows is that we cannot continue to accept a situation where one of the world’s most ethnically diverse countries has one of most ethnically segregated school systems. Where people of different faiths can grow up without friends of a different faith.

And so, let us see yesterday’s atrocity for what it is. A call to redouble our efforts to connect our country together.

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