Friday 13 January 2023

Overcoming Negativity

 The recent wave of vile and senseless racist protests against the refugee community in Ireland is profoundly disturbing but in the last 24 hours there are signs of hope and an alternative and more representative narrative emerging as the newly formed Ballymun for All and Ballyfermot for All among others reclaim the recently hijacked voice of the citizens of this land and affirm that this is still 'Ireland of the Welcomes'.

It is so important that the wider local community in these and other places are fighting back against a small group of hate filled individuals who are misrepresenting the people of Ireland and spreading fear and hatred though zenophobic propaganda and misinformation.

Although those who promote this hatred are in a minority the power of negativity (The Negativity Bias) has long been recognised scientifically as much more enduring than its opposite of possitivity and in order to overcome this negativity we have to make a significant and disproportionate effort to overcome it.

I first saw this demonstrated some 20 years ago when I was a guest at the consecation of the first openly gay Anglican bishop in Durham, New Hampshire, USA. Bishop Gene Robinson who is a personal friend of mine and who faced death threats on the day and had to wear a bulletproof vest during the ceremony and bravely faced a very dangerous situation throughout the liturgy. His consecration was heavily protested by the notorious Westboro Baptist Church and I and all who attended had to walk through their vile and hateful protest but it was entirely mitigated by a counter and much larger positive protest by students from the University of New Hampshire who quite literally demonstrated how Love triumphs over fear and hatred.

This is what I was reminded of when I saw the local communities in Ballyfermot and Ballymun rising up to reclaim their voice and with it the priority of Love. They have set us all an example and we must follow by refusing to let hate win and to give overwhelming voice to the Love that is at the heart of true community. Otherwise if we leave a void it will be filled by hatred and negativity – We cannot be passive and assume that the greater good will prevail. Let us protest for Love and against Hate!

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