Blogging Ellul: Completing the task alone

It is not your duty to complete the work but neither are you free to desist from it (Pirkei Avot 2:6)
Yesterday we hosted an afternoon of interfaith remembering, hope and healing after 9.11 for Westminster's Faith Communities through the Faith Exchange. It was packed full and we were urgently putting out extra chairs and hoping the food would go around (of course it did!) During the second half of the afternoon one of the participants had decided to head home as she was tired and feeling unwell, and ran into a protest; Muslims Against the Crusades, which was marching from the American Embassy pretty much past our front door. She quickly made her way back to us, feeling the need to be back with people working for peace and co-existence. She was very shaken, and as we broke into small groups for discussion, the question in my head was what is the point of always working so hard for dialogue when those outside our front door are doing the opposite and calling for war. A similar question poses itself for the month of Ellul; why do all this work to improve myself and my world if the majority around me aren't going to change themselves. Talking to our security guard later, I discovered there were around 50 people on the protest. We were over 75 inside the synagogue. This reminded me that actually it is always the moderate majority that is least heard. It is such a small number that are radicalised and extreme, and in each faith group and of course some non-faith groups we have extremists). We did have a local photographer at our event, but we didn't make the morning metro, so the impression that will be had this morning is that a march came through Westminster calling for more division and strife, not that people from across the religious divide shared prayer, food, and friendship with one another to help comfort one another in the face of a horror that still hurts ten years later and which has caused suffering around the world. We may feel like we are a small island working for good, but whether the work is communal or individual, there are usually far more people doing good than being destructive (as we saw after the London riots/looters). Ultimately however, we do good and we seek change because of who WE are, not because of who anyone else is, we only have the power to decide who we will be in the world, and we are constantly challenged to be better. We may not complete the task of repairing the world, but we must never give up either.


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