WHEN VIOLENCE erupts in these islands, where the vast majoritas of people of all ages. religions, and colours, yearn for peace, we first seek someone to blame, Then we try to think of some way to impose law arid order. if not to heal the disease which causes the disturbances.
wish to make two points, and to propose a solution which will infallibly work, if enough of us adopt it wholeheartedly.
It is impossible to single out individuals or groups who should bear all the blame.
And even if we could justly convict, say, this leader or that. or the Government or the parents, or the skinheads, or the Protestants or the Catholics, as bearing a major responsibility. we would have come no nearer to a solution.
My first point is this: we are ALL to blame. / am responsible. / have not cared .enough, or been brave enough: / have not wanted to get involved. I happen to live far from Northern Ireland; and the violence in England has not come to my street.
But as I accuse myself I accuse you all. We are all responsible in one way or another or the evils in our midst.
Wheawe accept our common responsibility for our society in these islands, and acknowledge our failure to be channels of peace, we have moved a step nearer to the answer to the problems. But by itself that move would be sterile and depressing. My second point is even more negative. The evils which have come to the surface in Northern Ireland and in our cities are beyond any human remedy.
They add up to more than the sum of injustices, the humiliation of minorities, unemployment, alienation, frustration. cruelty, terrorism. There is no system of maintaining law and order, nothing the Government can do, which will significantly slow down the disintegration of our society.
The chips are down, and it is unrealistic to imagine that human efforts alone can be pitted against evil forces which cannot be indeotified with any single person or group. These forces are spiritual M their origin, and have a power stronger than our own. The evils are not merely political or economic; they are moral and spiritual. There are forces of darkness which use our situation of injustice, frustration, grief, and bewilderment to whip up more and more hatred and violence till we collapse in chaos.
But for Christians there is an answer. If we are truly Christian we believe that Jesus Christ is Lord.
But we have failed to proclaim him as Lord. We have used our religion as an escape from harsh reality.
We have not brought the spiritual power of Christ, to whom all authority in Heaven and earth is given. into the mess of our decaying society.
If we believe that Christ is the answer to the problems of Northern Ireland and our cities. we must come together and say so, and use his power to bring the peace of the Kingdom.
This is not to write off the efforts of politicians. community workers, and everyone else who is working to bUild a better world.
But I believe their efforts will come to very little without the backing of Praact% The time has come when there is an urgent need for prayer on a national scale for Northern Ireland and for justice and peace in Britain.
When King George VI called the nation to prayer in 1940, the power of prayer proved stronger than the Nazi war machine.
There should be a National Day of Prayer. well publicised. for peace in all these islands. Church leaders should get together and make a united call to all Christians, and to others who would respond, to pray on the same day, and in each others' churches and homes.
It is essential that the call be made throughout these islands; that the prayer should be ecumenical; and should include repentance in all our hearts. It should be strengthened by real fasting by the able-bodied.
Every prayer offered in the name of Christ will be heard. IF our nation or nations) make this a truly national act of faith. God will save us as a nation, He will change our hearts by the Holy Spirit. and lead us on the way to a just and peaceful society.
Michael Killeen St Paul's Grimethorpe Barnsley