Monday, July 18, 2005


"Bear witness to the humanity of all people..." (Quaker Advices and Queries, British Yearly Meeting)

"Even a smile is charity." (Mohammad)

I remain disturbed at the outpouring of fear I am encountering amongst my fellow psychologists, and wondering how on earth we can maintain and build community relationships in a multicultural society when people are switching tube carriages and getting off buses when they see young Asian men.

Perhaps the best I can do for now is to do the very opposite and be ever so very un-British about it. We should remember that all those we pass on the street, be they off a different race or culture, be they drug addicts begging for a few pence to buy "tea", they are all human. Perhaps all that it takes is for each of us to recognise one another's humanity and dare to make eye contact and offer a gentle smile to all.

I'll try not to look like the picture when I'm doing it!

The piece of Quaker advice that I quoted at the top of the page is part of a fuller extract from A&Q which reads,

"Are you alert to practices here and throughout the world which discriminate against people on the basis of who or what they are or because of their beliefs? Bear witness to the humanity of all people, including those who break society's conventions or its laws. Try to discern new growing points in social and economic life. Seek to understand the causes of injustice, social unrest and fear. Are you working to bring about a just and compassionate society which allows everyone to develop their capacities and fosters the desire to serve?"

Perhaps it might be worth pointing to an article in 'The Psychologist' - then main general psychology publication from the British Psychological Society which suggests that terrorists are not lunatics, madmen or animals, but acting in a way that is understandable if one takes into account their social and political context. The implications of this for how we should respond to terrorism are too important and potentially too costly to ignore.

Click here for the article.

1 comment:

Lorcan said...

Oh kiddo... a smile is more than charity... it is a blessing, a great gift - from a stranger or a friend.