We are surrounded by paradoxes! “Man is born free, but he is everywhere in chains”, wrote Jean-Jacques Rousseau in the 1700s.
Ours is a free society but still needing laws to protect those freedoms against the extremes.
Take religion for example.
Islamaphobia generates much heat and hatred, so anything which is seen to be in any way an attack on Islam is regarded as inciting religious hatred and is illegal.
The flipside is that some Christian groups argue the pendulum swings too far one way and that Christianity is fair game to be ridiculed with impunity.
The reality is that we do live in an amazingly free and tolerant society.
Sadly there are always going to be those imprisoned by their bigotry, but the law exists to protect the freedoms of the majority.
The law prevents the worst atrocities, but far more fundamental is prejudice residing within the heart of the individual beyond the law.
Mercifully though, our society provides myriad opportunities for people’s understanding to be widened.
Two examples happen over the next couple of weeks.
Unlike in some countries where Christian gatherings are banned two events can help people understand more about the breadth of the Christian faith.
Bible by the Beach happens over the May Bank Holiday weekend at Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne and is a whole weekend of teaching and worship.
You have to buy tickets, but anyone can.
The usual free Sunday evening worship has had to be curtailed this year due to the limited venue, but the point is that this is openly advertised and all are welcome.
The second event from the other end of the Christian spectrum is Rosary on the Coast.
This national initiative by the Roman Catholic Church has around two hundred venues where at 3pm on 29th April 29 there will be prayer and worship in public places.
There are twenty venues along the Sussex coast from Camber Sands to West Wittering, including Eastbourne bandstand.
With events such as these, hopefully the walls of prejudice in people’s hearts can be broken down.