West Ham Archdeacon Elwin Cockett on the global struggle with terrorism

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- Credit: Archant

How should we respond to the evil of terrorism?

In Charing Cross Road, there stands a memorial to the memory of Edith Cavell, who was a household name a hundred years ago.

Edith trained as a nurse at the Royal London Hospital where she wasn’t the best of students. She gained experience in several different hospitals before going to Brussels, in Belgium. She had lived there before and spoke French very well, and soon she was the Matron of the first school of nursing in Belgium.

At the start of World War I, Edith saw it as her duty as a nurse to treat all the wounded, regardless of nationality.

She was very unpopular with some people because she helped German soldiers, even though they had been fighting the British. At the same time, she was helping injured British soldiers get home through neutral Holland.

When the German authorities found out, she was arrested and put on trial. Her case received a great deal of publicity, but in October 1915 she was executed by firing squad, to international condemnation.

After receiving communion on the night before she was to be shot, she had said to the chaplain: “Standing as I do in view of God and eternity, I realise that patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone.”

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So what should be our response in the face of terrorism?

Martin Luther King, who paid with his own life for opposing evil, said this: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

I think those words are in tune with Edith Cavell, the nurse who was determined not to have hatred or bitterness towards anyone.

We are seeing a global struggle against an evil cult that chooses death and fear. We must choose life and hope.

Let us be clear: It is in solidarity with people of all faiths and none, rather than in the victimisation of any, that we will find the way to defeat the demonic curse of terrorism. More from Elwin

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