After the horrific events on Monday night, for which we continue to pray peace into, I have been struck by the number of friends south of the border commenting on more armed police and soldiers in streets.
I remember the first time I saw armed police (as the norm) in he UK, it was in Ashford station catching the Euro train to Paris. Did they make me feel safer as the station was cleared for a suspicious suitcase left on the platform, well no not really. Police without arms could have directed us away just as easily. It turned out it was nothing more than a forgotten suitcase, but I find myself pondering that day.
Would those who would wish harm upon others really change their minds if a policeman with a gun was standing somewhere close to their target? I can not answer that for it is not something I would do. Rationally I can imagine it wouldn’t if they were already set on ending their own life as well as that of others, indeed does it even make such targets more appealing to those twisted minds? I don’t know.
What I do know is that I didn’t feel safe because there was a policeman with a gun, I felt safe because the policeman who happened to have a gun knew what to do and were to direct us.
Of course armed police in airports has become a common thing now and each time I see one I feel a little scared rather than a little safer. Maybe I have watched too many films and television, I just don’t see how a gun is going to stop someone with a bomb strapped to them and a dead man’s switch. I know for some there is comfort and safety in the increased security presence and I am not advocating the removal of it, rather what I am trying to say, perhaps badly is, I do not believe guns bring about peace, it is the laying down of guns that do that.
I found myself digging out a picture to share with you, one that speaks powerfully to me.
The sculpture was created by four artists, Kester, Hilario Nhatugueja, Fiel dos Santos and Adelino Serafim Maté in Maputo, as part of a co-operative called Associação Núcleo de Arte in Maputo. Made after the Mozambique Civil war this tree of life is sculpted out of arms and around its base are animals made in a similar fashion
The millions of weapons in Mozambique were the remains of the civil war that was funded by South Africa and Rhodesia and involved emigrants from both of their regimes. One million people were killed and the war only ended when the Soviet Union collapsed and the funding ended. The millions of guns didn’t stop it or make the country any more safe.
Kofi Annan of the United Nations said, when similar work was being discussed, “We don’t manufacture weapons, we sometimes don’t even have money to buy them. How do we get these weapons to kill each other?”
I am also reminded of Franklin Roosevelt’s words: “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”
Jesus told us we do not need to fear for he is with us, yesterday, today and for ever. On this Ascension Day we not only remember and pray for those whose lives were torn asunder on Monday evening, but also pray that the peace of God which passes all understanding and casts out all fear may rest in the hearts of all who fear this day. For in the everlasting arms of God we are safe not just for a passing moment, a day, a week, a month, a year or even a lifetime, but for eternity.