The USA, land of the free, but with colossal problems revealed by the shootings the other week of two black men followed by riots and the Dallas shootings in retaliation.
It was a strange irony that this year’s Wimbledon women’s champion is Serena Williams from the USA and is black. The nation seems to lurch from giving people great opportunity while at the same time revealing ingrained racism.
The last few weeks our nation has also revealed its racist underbelly with the abuse aimed at foreigners since the Brexit vote. But there is another tension which is surfacing with sexism as the theme.
The recent controversy over the comments by Andrea Leadsom about motherhood making her a better candidate for Tory leader was odd at all kinds of levels.
Whatever she meant to say, simply raising the issue of the fact that she is a mother in a political context is an odd thing to do. I haven’t heard David Cameron say that because he is a father it makes him a good leader.
It is akin to comments made about celibate priests being unqualified to help couples in marriage preparation or in matters affecting children because they aren’t dads. It isn’t relevant. I have known celibate priests who have thought through their sexuality and the issues of being a parent far more deeply than many married priests with children. They have had to come to terms with the issues and that can make them far more capable of understanding the pressures couples and parents go through.
But similarly I have met those who haven’t a clue! This is the key. It is about whether the person is capable of doing the job, and able to fulfil all that is required of them.
It does not depend upon the colour of their skin or whether they are a man or a woman. As a priest an early lesson I learned was not to make assumptions about people. There is always a danger of making snap decisions about the people around us based upon appearance and the flimsiest of evidence.
It is possible to say that there are differences between men and women, but just as every single one of us is different to the person next to us. We are all beautifully unique with qualities and abilities. That is how God has made us.
If there is one lesson we human beings can learn which would make this world a better place it is perhaps that we should learn not to be prejudiced towards one another, making judgemental assumptions, but rather to accept and appreciate one another as we truly are!