OPINION: West Ham archdeacon Elwin Cockett is determined not to let terrorists stop us getting on with each other

PUBLISHED: 08:00 31 May 2017


Living in east London means having to get on with people who are different to you.

We are all members of minorities, whatever our ethnicity or religion. We all know what it feels like to be outnumbered at times, and we can all feel like we are not being heard. Any yet most of us get along with each other, whatever our differences.

Of course, some people don’t want that. Some of them commit appalling acts in the name of ‘religion’, to the shame of all people of faith. But, as we stand firm in the face of ISIS’s terrorism, we do well to remember that for the vast majority of Muslims the actions of ISIS are as repugnant as those of the Ku Klux Klan are to the vast majority of Christians.

In February 1977, Bishop Festo Kivengere was part of a group of Christian leaders in Uganda who delivered a protest letter to the dictator, Idi Amin, speaking out against the beatings, arbitrary killings and unexplained disappearances taking place across his country. The next day, Festo Kivengere’s friend and leader, Archbishop Janani Luwum, was murdered by Idi Amin’s men and Bishop Festo was driven into hiding and then exile.

Soon afterwards, Festo Kivengere published a book entitled ‘I Love Idi Amin’. He explained the extraordinary title: ‘The Holy Spirit showed me that I was getting hard in my spirit… so I had to ask for forgiveness from the Lord, and for grace to love President Amin more… this was fresh air for my tired soul. I knew I had seen the Lord and been released: love filled my heart.’

Jesus said ‘Love your neighbour’. Today, in Uganda, Idi Amin’s rule of fear is long gone. In contrast, the love expressed by Festo Kivengere lives on, expressed in a million ways by the people of that country. Uganda is a good place to be, because its people chose love rather than hate.

Love is more than a feeling or an emotion. It is a decision about how we treat one another. Let’s make sure that, whatever the terrorists do - in Paris, in Manchester, and here in London - we show the world that we can

get along with each other for the good of all. More from Elwin

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