BBC Radio Leicester Thought for the Day

© John Denney 10 May 2004


It has been a slow and hard-fought battle to give us the rights we enjoy.  Magna Carta, Habeas Corpus, Simon de Montfort, the Civil War, and the development of our constitutional monarchy have all been signposts on a long journey.  Today we have a parliament elected by all the adults of the country by democratic vote.  The government is accountable to parliament for its actions.  And just sixty years ago, we declared a hard-fought victory over Adolf Hitler, who wanted to impose his bullying and murderous tyranny over Europe, and who nearly succeeded.


In this country, we have the protection of the law, and the European Convention on Human Rights.  We are not subject to arbitrary imprisonment.    And if we are imprisoned, the authorities have an express duty to protect us and provide for our health and wellbeing.  This is our right, and is one of the great benefits of our democratic way of government.


The claims that a few of our soldiers have sorely ill-treated some Iraqi prisoners, and Donald Rumsfeld’s avowed admission that American forces have assaulted and abused helpless men and women prisoners in the Abu Ghraib jail in Baghdad, causes us to hang our heads in shame.  The military are in Iraq on my behalf and your behalf.  We bear some of the guilt for these atrocities.


The central theme of the bible is God’s love.  But the bible also tells something else about God.  Listen to this, and think of Iraq: how we got there, and what we’re doing there.  Here are six things GOD hates, and one more that he loathes with a passion: eyes that are arrogant, a tongue that lies, hands that murder the innocent, a heart that hatches evil plots, feet that race down a wicked track, a mouth that lies under oath, a troublemaker in the family[1].


We may not be able to do anything directly about the shocking maltreatment of our fellow human beings in Iraq, other than to keep the pressure on our politicians.  But we can begin at home, by making every effort to treat everyone fairly and with justice.  That includes the criminal, the illegal immigrant, the person from another culture, and even the person who treats you unfairly.  As the apostle James said, You do well when you complete the Royal Rule of the Scriptures: "Love others as you love yourself.[2]


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[1] Proverbs 6:16-19 (MSG)

[2] James 2:8 (MSG)