I was listening to the news the day after the attack in London last weekend. CNN was interviewing a man who had been in a Borough Market pub when the three knife wielding men came in. He described with great respect and appreciation the actions of various people, wait staff, security, police, and EMTs, people who cared for him and the other patrons as the event unfolded. He spoke eloquently describing how everyone cared for one another, how they looked after one another as the attack was taking place and after it was over. It was a riveting interview.
One of the things that struck me was the reason he was there at the scene the day after such a traumatic experience. He was there to pay his bill. He came back to pay the restaurant for the food and drinks he had consumed before the attack! It was a particularly significant act of integrity to be sure, but as I listened to him share, it was more than that. He spoke so much from his heart not in anger or hatred, but in love for what the London community represented. He spoke about the diversity in his city and how much he valued that gift. And finally, he said (and I’m not quoting him precisely, but it’s close), “we must continue to represent this culture of openness and diversity, the more they try to stop it the more we need to grow it and live it out in the open.”
There was no fear in his voice. There was no suggestion that Londoner’s ought to run and hide or arm themselves. In fact he made a particular point about the difficulty of getting guns in the UK and if these three men had had guns how things would have been much worse. He simply stood, in the aftermath of this attack, ready to fight back with love. Ready to keep fear from ruling over the basic construct of his culture, believing that love and tolerance could in fact win the day. I was moved to tears of joy listening to this man.
A year and a half ago we of the Grand Rapids District held an event to celebrate the faith statement that love overcomes fear. I pray we continue to hold to that belief. I pray we continue to live it out in a celebration of diversity and the God given gift of every person. I pray we continue to let others know we believe it’s true.