Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Compassion and equality the key to ending division

Across the world one-in-eight people will go to bed hungry tonight. That is a scandal which the G8 leaders must address, says John Sentamu

Doctor John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York

In the Book of Proverbs, we are told that pride comes before a fall. But is pride always a bad thing? My teachers encouraged me, as a child, to take pride in my work and, as a parent, I delight in our children's achievements.

However, being proud can often mean seeking to take the credit for something which is not necessarily solely down to our own hard work and devotion.

As the African proverb says, "Anyone who stands out in a crowd does so because they are being carried on the shoulders of others."

If there's anything that history and life in general teaches us, it's that our strengths are also our weaknesses and that the things we are passionate about can also become the things that bring us down.

As your guest in Northern Ireland this coming Sunday, I can readily see around me reminders of your own painful past.

Pride in heritage and identity can be divisive and costly, but forgiveness and reconciliation are the way we can work towards a better future together.

Over the years, with many others, I have prayed endlessly for a lasting peace in this country.

It's my prayer that Northern Ireland becomes better known for being a place where good decisions are made, where justice reigns, where people join together to build a future that is better than the past.

As I prepare to speak at a service in Enniskillen, focusing on global hunger, I know that your spirit of generosity and fair play, your experience of pain and injustice and your desire for fairness and reconciliation can help others make the leap of faith that many of you have already taken.

Next week, eight of the world's most powerful leaders will gather here to discuss the big issues affecting our global community.

There is much to deliberate and there are tough decisions to take.

However, what we must keep at the centre of all plans, deliberations and actions is a passion for economic and social justice for all.

Did you know that, even though there is enough food in the world for everyone, one in eight people will go to bed hungry tonight? That is nothing less than a scandal.

Parents put their hungry children to bed, knowing that there will still be not enough food tomorrow. Or the next day. Or the day after.

This is an injustice, which cannot be allowed to continue.

I hope that 2013 will be the year that goes down in the history books as the one where Enniskillen hosted the decisions that would mean that children all over the world, whatever their nationality, or ethnicity, could grow up well-fed, healthy and able to build their own future.

It is our moral responsibility to pray, campaign and work together to ensure our leaders understand that all deserve justice – regardless of international boundaries. The IF campaign, supported by a number of charities and organisations, is trying to get that message across in constructive ways.

Many of us have already asked politicians to prioritise legislation that will help the world's poorest people: decisions to end tax evasion, allocate aid budgets to fight malnutrition and make sure vulnerable people aren't unfairly evicted from their land. Why not join us in pressing for justice for all?

With God's grace, we can all share in with great joy and gladness – but not pride in our own works. While families still go to bed hungry, there is much that needs to be done in the fight for fairness.

There is enough food in the world for everyone to be fed, but at the moment not everyone has enough on their table to survive. Don't ignore the problem; be part of the solution.

There is enough food for all our hungers and not for our greed and hoarding. Empty your purses, store-houses and barns and feed the hungry: our brothers and sisters.

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