I was in Broome a couple of weeks ago and I began my message by saying it seemed as if the world had gone crazy.
In the month of November alone violence and terror traumatised the people of Lebanon, Iraq, the West Bank, Somalia, Israel, Egypt, Syria, Chad, Cameroon, Nigeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mali, Tunisia, France, Libya, Niger, Bangladesh, East Jerusalem and even the USA.
Ordinary, innocent people including children were killed and injured. In the Middle East people have fled this trauma in their hundreds of thousands, seeking shelter and safety, especially for their children.
We must not be led astray by commentators who would blame this terror on any particular faith or those who want to incite racial and religious hate. Terror is indiscriminate violence and hate wrought against our shared humanity.
Next week 10 December is International Human Rights Day, which celebrates our shared humanity and seeks to bring a focus to those circumstances where people are suffering though exploitation, abuse or violence.
People of faith can and must stand together against global terror and against all acts which diminish our shared humanity.
To that end, this week I added my name to the ‘Joint Declaration of Religious Leaders against Modern Slavery’. This Declaration was first signed by world faith leaders on 2 December 2014 in Rome, and seeks to join our efforts to eradicate modern slavery and human trafficking by the year 2020.
Wednesday this week was the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery and in Canberra more faith leaders added their signatures to the Declaration. Dr Mark Zirnsak, Director of Justice and International Mission in the Victorian-Tasmanian Synod represented me at the ceremony.
It reminded me that in just a few weeks we celebrate the birth of Christ, who declared “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour” (Luke 4:18-19).
My friends, we are called to follow in his ways. Let us stand together with all people of faith claiming our shared humanity and against all that comes against the reconciliation and renewal of the whole creation.
The Uniting Church in Australia through UnitingWorld is a member of the ‘Stop the Traffik Coalition in Australia’ – a global campaign to end human trafficking –www.stopthetraffik.org/australia