Remember the tale of Bruce and the spider? The tale of how a tiny creature’s persistence provided the spur that Bruce needed to keep going in the face of insurmountable odds? With the benefit of hindsight we know that success was eventually to be his. But he didn’t know that. He had to face his darkest moment without knowing what the future would bring.
Bruce faced terrible losses; the barbaric torture and death of some of his closest family, the imprisonment of others, the loss of Scotland. How much easier it could have been for him to turn and run. Give up and disappear from history. But he didn’t.
With hindsight life seems much easier than it is. But the reality is that, more often than not, we have to take a leap of faith, not knowing what the final outcome will be, but hoping that the decision we’ve made is the right one.
And it’s this that makes the central message of Bruce’s tale resonate just as strongly today as it did all those centuries ago. Right now, in countries like Syria and Yemen, men, women and children are facing the horrors of war, torture and starvation. Drug wars rage in South America. Torture and beheading go on unabated in Saudi Arabia. Ours is not a peaceful world. Yet despite that, there are always those courageous enough to stand up against oppressors, no matter how impossible the odds appear.
Standing up against injustice takes courage and conviction. While we may not fear for our safety in a physical sense, there are still anxieties that stop us speaking out against the insidious structural violence that dictatorial government in Westminster is inflicting on so many people. Right now the poor, the disabled, the widowed and the most vulnerable are being crushed. New laws are being slipped in silently, without debate, without scrutiny, without consensus. Legal? Perhaps, but at the same time immoral.
In Europe we’ve had a long spell of peace and relative stability and it can be hard to take in the seriousness of what’s happening. Or have we become too comfortable to notice any more? Too cosy with our nice homes, our holidays, and more than plenty to eat? Is it just too easy to sit in front of our televison sets and shut out the reality of what others around us are going through?
Imagine you talk to friends of trying to bring about change. Someone mocks you, calling you naive, idealistic, says forget it, nothing can be changed. But they’d be wrong, for change is at the very heart of human existence. If it weren’t, we’d still be dressed in animal skins, slavery would still be legal, children would still be working down mines, there would be no NHS. Change is happening all the time. But all too often we allow ourselves to think that someone else will sort things out, someone else will fight our wars, someone else will be the hero. But those times have gone.
Think of the words of Edmund Burke, who said: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Or the Bible, where in Proverbs 31: 8-9 it clearly states:
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves;
ensure justice for those being crushed.
Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless,
and see that they get justice.
WE are ones being called upon to act, to speak out – not ‘someone else’.
Bruce came out of his cave (with a little help from the spider!) and faced what had to be done. Now it’s our turn to make the difference, to fight for change, to be involved, to look beyond our comfortable lives and play our part. That ‘someone else’ is now you and me.