Letters to the Editor

Talk about abortion, don't just try to win the argument

Michelle Obama coined one of the great political slogans of this century – ‘When they go low, we go high.’ In an interview with the New York Times she unpacked the meaning of this.

'''Going high' doesn’t mean you don’t feel the hurt, or you’re not entitled to an emotion. It means that your response has to reflect the solution. It shouldn’t come from a place of anger or vengefulness. Barack and I had to figure that out. Anger may feel good in the moment, but it’s not going to move the ball forward.”

Abortion is an emotive issue and I’ve seen a lot of anger in public discourse over recent days. One of your journalists, Allison Morris, tweeted on Sunday ‘Why do almost all men with ‘Christian Dad’ in their profile hate poor women so much?’ while the Alliance Councillor Glenn Finlay posted on Facebook to accuse pro-life protestors at Stormont of ‘self-championing,’ ‘salivating over photoshopped foetuses,’ ‘turning their gaze away from the children in need among us,’ and being unwilling to do the ‘hard work’ of actually helping.

It hurt to read those words – it especially hurt on behalf of the many good people I know who are passionate in their support of the vulnerable, the poor, the needy. I think of friends who have gone through the fostering process with its long invasive checks, hope and heartbreak, and weep to imagine them lumped in with a callous stereotype.

One of the biggest Christian conferences in the country is New Horizon in Coleraine at the start of August. One of the speakers was Rosaria Butterfield who spoke passionately and powerfully about adoption, within the broader theme of radical hospitality. As Christians adoption is one of our most precious pictures of salvation and of our identity as God’s adopted children, shown the same love that the Father shows to Jesus Christ his Son.

I wish that those who pour petrol on the flames of public discourse would instead sit down and talk to people they disagree with. Try to ‘move the ball forward’ instead of winning the argument.

At the same time we Christians need to walk the walk – not merely to head off accusations of hypocrisy, but to live out a faith in the God who cares for the fatherless and the widow and adopts the unwanted and the damaged, the unworthy and the unloved.

REV JONATHAN BOYD

Minister of Hyde Park and Lylehill Presbyterian Churches, Templepatrick

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Let’s learn from the suffering of the Zimbabwean people

One of the most beautiful and potentially prosperous countries in the world was and is, without doubt, Zimbabwe. Ravaged by the exploitations of former colonialists including Cecil Rhodes, this country retained the capacity to lead the world in creating genuine wealth while at the same time protecting the environment, showing respect for difference and being a model which the western world could do no more than look on in wonder.

Sadly, Robert Mugabe, emerging from conflict, became the leader and I doubt if the full extent of his tyranny will ever be documented even now that he is dead. Once dubbed ‘the breadbasket of Africa’ Zimbabwe became the greatest persecutor of its own people and that of its neighbouring countries including Malawi. Ironically, married to a Malawian, his ruthless regime murdered tens of thousands of that country’s people who crossed the border to work on white farms.

During his reign he encouraged his Shona tribe to murder countless fellow countrymen from Matabeleland simply because they opposed his ruthless regime which showed no accommodation for difference, tribe or culture and yet the world looked on with deafening silence and even less concern.

Even now, this tyrant will have all the trappings of a statesman as they bury him, ignoring the suffering of countless people left homeless in Harare when he bulldozed their homes in what was their Soweto.

Perhaps, while drawing no parallels between Mugabe and our own situation we can learn from his tyranny that the only way forward is to seek to accommodate difference, leave the legacy of history behind and refuse to emulate it in any way either through violence or really bad politics.

Yes, we too have a beautiful country, capable of creating wealth and prosperity for our people in many ways but to date, while not exactly drawing comparisons with Mugabe, we too have killed each other, carried out horrendous acts of revenge but thankfully stopped short of what happened in Zimbabwe, the Balkans or other parts of the world.

Perhaps, as they bury this tyrant we can pause for a moment and reflect on the consequences of going it alone, relying on tribal support for our policies and beginning afresh with a properly functioning assembly, strong and robust cross-border bodies, a civic forum and a real effort to create genuine unity of our people where borders and frontiers are no more than part of a lexicon of a past which failed us all.

JOHN DALLAT MLA

SDLP East Derry

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No need for radical change in Catholic Church

Fr Joe McVeigh's vexation about the shortcomings of the Catholic Church (September 3) will sit well with those critics who would welcome its downfall. The next time I attend Mass I must check If I am in a Catholic Church, for as one of the so called ' ordinary people who don't count,' I am not familiar with these ' pay, pay and obey' conditions to which he refers.

His suggestion that the Church has lost its working class people because, ' they feel alienated for good reasons' is absurd. There are no good reasons for not attending Mass.

As for the women who ' become pregnant against their wishes,' I fail to see how the Church can be held responsible and to imply that the Church treats them harshly requires further elaboration.

Women do play an important role in the Catholic Church participating in the celebration of the Eucharist and by their reading of Holy Scripture and Eucharistic ministry. It is time for a change - a radical change rails Fr Joe. Speaking as one of the so called ' ordinary people ' I contend that Catholicism is not a market research religion. Dogma and morals are not susceptible to those who hold different theological opinions. Truth is the Catholic Church's chief concern, and it is the complete truth without gilding or exercises in public relations. The 'ordinary people' value the Church not because it is yielding but because it is inflexible. It is the one constant in a changing world of social media. The Catholic Church is not governed by trends and while ' ordinary people' value that no radical change can be expected. Nor is one needed.

WILSON BURGESS 

Derry City

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