At risk of being accused of jumping on the bandwagon I couldn’t give up the opportunity to celebrate the beautiful example of community that was expressed in the “I’ll Ride With You” hashtag last night.
My heart truly soared.
Yesterday many of our neighbours would have had due reason to feel frightened of how strangers in the community might respond to them. Could have felt concerned that they would be ostracised purely because of the way they dress or the colour of their skin. And yet the steady stream of #IllRideWithYou offers presented an alternative to this fear.
It didn’t offer a program or money- what it did offer was to stand alongside in friendship and solidarity.
And in the middle of Advent I, with many others, was struck with the resonance this holds with the birth of Jesus; the incarnation. God choosing to set aside power and privilege in order to get alongside us as an equal- to become less than our equal -to walk alongside us in our suffering, to experience life as we do, in the ultimate #IllRideWithYou
This is what we need more of- walking alongside those who are most vulnerable in our community. More people willing to walk alongside those at risk of being marginalised, isolated or victimised.
Of course we need to go further and work towards a culture in which marginalisation, isolation and racism are no longer present- but in the meantime we must walk alongside.
And not just for the length of a train ride or a bus route but in general and for life.
In the current climate our Muslim and middle-eastern neighbours will continue to need offers of walking (or riding) alongside and I hope that rather than being a one-off offer it might be (as Father Bob tweeted) our finest communitarian hour.
I also wonder to whom else we could extend this offer to ride alongside?
And what might that riding alongside look like?