Sally Foster-Fulton: We mustn’t let our differences divide

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We get to know our neighbours by spending time with them. We build our friendships by getting to know what makes our friends tick, what their hopes and dreams are, and how they live their lives and what they believe to be important in life.

If we are to be true to the memory of Lee Rigby our task should be to build relationships, not create barriers, his family said that we “should reach out, not hit out.”

We live in a wonderfully diverse country. There is a school in Edinburgh with 44 first languages. That is what is exciting about 21st century Scotland. Difference is how we learn about who we are. Those who make difference an excuse for violence cannot be allowed to stop us getting to know our neighbours better.

That is why I was delighted when the Church of Scotland was asked to take part in an event last week at an Edinburgh Mosque where the discussion was “What can we do better together? What binds us as neighbours who share community? How do we make sure we find a positive response to the terrible events in Woolwich?” otherwise violence has won.

There were many varied answers but all had a common theme. The more time we spend together, the better neighbours we will become and the less chance there is that those who use difference as an excuse for violence will have their way.

The events in Woolwich are the very reason we should spend more time in mosques and synagogues, temples and gurdwaras, community halls and neighbourhood centres. Wherever those we live beside are, so we can better share our lives and be the neighbours we want others to be to us.

We must remember we have more that binds us together than the differences that separate us.

• Rev Sally Foster-Fulton, Convener of the Church and Society Council of the Church of Scotland