Royals, protestors and equal worth
It is interesting to note how much UK media attention, following protests against student fee rises yesterday (9 December 2010), has focused on the admittedly alarming experience of Prince Charles and his wife Camilla when the car they were travelling in was damaged - compared to the life-threatening ordeal of Alfie Meadows.
Alfie Meadows, you ask? This twenty-year-old second year philosophy student was apparently hits so hard on the head with a truncheon that he suffered bleeding to the brain, and was operated on in hospital for three hours. Luckily he survived.
Obviously, there are issues around the security of a possible future head of state that require public discussion. Yet some of the media coverage, and pronouncements by politicians, downplay the distress and injury suffered by a number of the protestors.
The violence that marred a largely peaceful protest has rightly been criticised, but much of it was also experienced by demonstrators. (Ekklesia and the Student Christian Movement are currently looking to promote established techniques of active nonviolence in situations of confrontation like this.)
Meanwhile, school and college students who are neither rich nor celebrities, surely matter as much as the highest in the land.
However, this equal worth and dignity is often not reflected in the way we treat and report events such as those that occurred in London - or, of course, in the social and economic inequality that was at the root of these protests.
The great majority of Christians would concur that all people, whatever their social status, are equally precious to God. That goes to the heart of our faith.
And Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”. It was adopted on 10 December 1948 - 62 years ago today.
(c) Savi Hensman works in the voluntary sector in community care and equalities in the UK, and is also a respected writer on Christianity and social justice. She is an Ekklesia associate and regular columnist (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/news/columns/hensman).
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