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Love and kindness are key ingredients still required

By Jenny Adams

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I wrote my first column two years ago, trying to offer something hopeful when our first lockdown had just begun.

love, peace, kindness, joy and harmony with sun smiley - isolated set of sticky notes with inspirational words
love, peace, kindness, joy and harmony with sun smiley - isolated set of sticky notes with inspirational words

Back then I reflected on four very prevalent words: unprecedented, isolation, vulnerable and kindness.

Sadly, not much we’re living with now feels unprecedented. Lockdown and restrictions evolved. Vaccinations were developed, tested and approved – though there’s still work to do sharing those globally. We’ve got used to living with Covid-19, though the cost has been very high.

We’re very aware of war in Ukraine but, tragically, war and its consequences are not unprecedented. Tomorrow marks the 40th anniversary of the start of the Falklands War and 30 years ago Europe watched the wars in the former Yugoslavia with horror. There’s ongoing death and destruction in Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen and more.

jenny adams up to date
jenny adams up to date

Violence generates refugee crises - the vast numbers of Ukrainians forced from their homes aren’t unprecedented either. The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, warns that almost a quarter of Ukraine’s population is now displaced, with many more stranded in dangerous areas. Its website also highlights refugee emergencies with the Rohingya in Bangladesh, Nicaraguans in Costa Rica, South Sudanese, Mozambicans and Somalians displaced by extreme weather and conflict, and war bringing catastrophe to people of Yemen, Syria and Afghanistan.

“Unprecedented” may no longer be current, but “vulnerable” certainly is. Everyone in conflict zones and seeking safety is vulnerable. Health conditions and lack of access to vaccinations still make Covid-19 dangerous to many, who feel vulnerable and forgotten. Everybody facing financial fears about heating and eating is vulnerable.

Sadly, “isolation” is also still relevant. It’s hard to overcome two years keeping apart. Fears about health, finances and security can turn us in on ourselves.

Which leads to a different word: “exacerbated.” Lots has been made worse by the pandemic. Existing economic inequalities, within the UK and between nations, have expanded. Social divisions, for example in how people have been able to work or not, have been highlighted. So, where’s the hope? I think we can still turn to that last word from two years ago: “kindness.”

There has been and still is so much kindness. We see kindness to our local neighbours, in people and businesses supporting each other. We see kindness from folk opening homes to refugees, many wanting to make that welcome wider than Ukrainians. We experience kindness when people reach out to overcome isolation and loneliness. We can be kind to others and to ourselves in difficult times.

Kindness is an expression of love: loving our neighbour as we love ourselves, loving creation.

For many faith communities, practical love is an expression of loving God with our whole being.

Tomorrow the Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins. It overlaps with the end of Christian Lent. Both seasons encourage prayer, practical worship and acts of love.

I wish our Muslim neighbours a peace-filled Ramadan, and I hope we all find greater love and kindness.

  • Jenny Adams is Minister of Duffus, Spynie and Hopeman Church of Scotland.

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