THE whole nation has been shocked by the brutal murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich.
In the days since there has been a worrying rise in racial tensions in some parts of the country.
The Prime Minister has appealed for everyone to work together – whatever our religious or ethnic background – in order to tackle extremism.
And in stressing the need to create a united front against the terror threat he is quite right.
The acts of a few criminals carried out in the name of a religion do not in any way make that whole religion bad – they are just the terrible crimes of a few fanatics.
The only way to combat the kind of hatred in which fanatics thrive is to continue to preach the message of tolerance to all.
What we must do is break down barriers – not build them up – and promote mutual understanding.
In appealing for calm, the family of Lee Rigby have spoken of “the greatest respect” in which he held people of all religions.
It would be a fitting memorial to him if we were able to spread that kind of attitude as far as possible, especially among the next generation.
Our children need to learn more about other religions and traditions, not less.
Visits like Newtongrange Primary’s trip to Edinburgh’s Central Mosque help promote that understanding.
It is very sad that so many parents felt unable to send their children, although we have to understand that some had grown anxious about their children’s safety amidst protests in the Capital.
It would be great if the trip could be arranged again at some point in the future.
Isn’t this, after all, the lesson of the Second World War and its aftermath? The more we mix with other people – spend time with them, trade with them and grow to understand them better – the less likely we are to fight with and kill each other.