John Denney, 8 DECEMBER 2000


I’ve been delivering live Thought for the Day messages on Radio Leicester for many years now, and the brief for these is: to be topical.  I usually wait until the previous evening and check the news headlines.  Last night – and for various reasons I didn’t get started on the job until 11 o’clock – I found a mish-mash of different stories that can be read in differing ways, according to your prejudices.  The European summit in Nice produces a whole crop of spin.  The rapid reaction force - or the seeds of a European army?  The Human rights convention - or the embryonic constitution of a super-state?  Whether Germany should be more equal than the rest of the members – or whether Germany should have more votes because of its larger population?  Not to mention the anarchists intent on disrupting the meeting, and the French gendarmerie intent on thwarting their violent protests.


And then there was the report that the number of speed cameras on Britain’s roads is to double.  An advance for road safety – or another jackbooted step towards a police state?  And the saga of the American presidential election.  Gore trying to steal the presidency from the rightful winner – or Bush trying to get into the White House by a corrupt electoral process?


So many different points of view, so many different spins.  You pays your money – and aren’t newspapers getting more and more expensive these days – and you takes your choice.


But one story stands out as unspinnable.  The killing of young Damilola Taylor in Peckham appalled the nation.  And yesterday, on what would have been his eleventh birthday, the church, whose Sunday School Damilola Taylor attended, hosted a memorial service for him.  It was impossible not to have been deeply moved by the grief of Damilola’s brother Tunde, as he spoke about the loveable and lively youngster whose life was so cruelly snatched from him.  It was impossible not to respect Tunde’s courage in admitting to his feelings of guilt for not having been there to protect his brother.  And it was impossible not to applaud  Tunde’s deep Christian certainty that Damilola is resting in the arms of his Lord.  In Tunde’s simple nobility of grief lie the seeds of victory over the evil that brought about Damilola Taylor’s death.


It puts the rest of the news into perspective, doesn't it?  The question is, what really matters – to you?


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