I’ve decided to post some of my most recent scripts for BBC Radio Bristol’s Breakfast Time Thought for the Day. I hope they give you a flavour of what you will find in my fund-raising book Each One of Us is Precious. Incidentally, the Breakfast Show now has two presenters – Steve LeFevre and Laura Rawlings.
Thought for the day, BBC Radio Bristol, 16 January 2015
Anna and I stayed with John in Cambridge when we went to a friend’s funeral in January, just after the Charlie Hebdo killings in Paris. I chatted to John a bit about what the publication is actually like, and the result a few days later was this script.
Good morning to you both
This time last week events in France were moving towards their tragic climax. I just want to say a few things about what I’ve learnt about the need to use words carefully.
Like many, I’ve felt the temptation to be swept along with the tide of support for Charlie Hebdo after the cold-blooded butchery committed in their offices. I’ve been heartened that so many different people have stood up for the right to free speech.
But that doesn’t mean I support and condone the actions of the journalists. They’ve treated the Prophet Mohammed in exactly the same way they do French politicians such as Marine La Pen – or even Christian leaders like the Pope.
They did show a lack of respect for Muslim traditions and values. I can quite understand that even a moderate Muslim, trying to find a middle ground, would have been hurt and angered by the deliberate insensitivity the magazine has shown over many years.
I’m having to choose my words very carefully here. It would be easy to give the impression that I feel the journalists brought it all upon themselves. I don’t believe that at all.
I think you know my Quaker belief that all human life is sacred means I can never see any murder as justifiable. But I do wish that the staff at Charlie Hebdo had chosen their words and images with more sensitivity.
So much of the conflict in our world today springs from the inability of the three ‘peoples of the book’ – Jews, Christians and Muslims – to focus on the enormous amount we have in common rather than the minutiae that divide us.
My worry is that by exercising their right to free speech so enthusiastically, these satirists may have unintentionally delayed the day when that can happen, when we can all live in freedom with the respect we deserve.