Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends
11th November 2019
Last week Wychwood held the biannual Wingfield-Digby lecture and had the privilege of listening to Michael Ramsden of the Zacharias Trust. He presented the view that the dominant narrative of our present culture is one of victimhood. We live in a society in which you are no one without a victim narrative and it has the function of providing a sense of identity. Shaped by our grievances everyone feels that they have a right to feel wronged and it fuels the very lives we lead. And those who don’t recognise our victimhood or disagree with us must hate us and therefore we will no-platform them in our universities and refuse to engage with them. This is a divided society in which everything I say is motivated by love but anything you’re saying against me must be motivated by hatred. It’s ‘us and them’, good v bad and absolutely no shades of grey in between. Grievances can be held for years, even generations and they are destructive. It was a 600 year grievance and sense of victimhood that led to a nationalist Serb murdering Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914, unleashing the horrors of WWI, which in turn laid the foundation for WWII.
On the week in which Remembrance Day falls we would perhaps do well to consider whether we too are subject to the culture of victimhood. Are there grievances on to which we hold and if so, how do we move on, what is the antidote? Michael Ramsden states unequivocally that it is love. This is the love exemplified by Jesus who although victim of a hideous injustice and agonising crucifixion says ‘Forgive them father, for they know not what they do’. It is an act of radical forgiveness and love which has the power to transform. Such forgiveness does not deny the need for justice but can break a victim narrative that may continue to wreak havoc in the lives of so many.
Christians teach that Jesus offered forgiveness even before people asked for it and all that is required is that it is received. In the words of Michael Ramsden, ‘Love may cost the loved one nothing, but love may cost the lover everything’. ‘Forgiveness is a terribly costly thing but it can turn things around and makes them radically different. The only way to end victimhood culture is to learn what it means to forgive. It means being willing to find peace where there was none before.’
So this Remembrance day we remember both the cost of war but also the cost of forgiveness, which brings hope.
Mrs Christine Crossley