Guernsey Press, 2 January 2021

Growing up in the 1980s, one of the iconic Christmas songs of my childhood was Band Aid’s “Do they know it’s Christmas”. I memorised the words and, later, learnt how to play it on the piano. It gave (and continues to give) us much to ponder about how, when there is so much in the world, inequality causes so many people to suffer.

When the song was re-released in both 2004 and 2011, I started to struggle with it the words. Initially it was the line “there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmastime”. After spending some time in South Africa preparing for ministry, I was increasingly irritated – countries in Africa are either nearer the equator than us (and so invariably warmer), or in the Southern Hemisphere (and so Christmas falls in the middle of summer). Bah, humbug!

But, this year, the line which has really got to me is “tonight thank God it’s them instead of you”. Yes, of course we are thankful for what we have. But surely that doesn’t mean we are glad some other people are unfortunate enough to suffer instead, does it?

Reflecting upon this line has lead me to think, invariably, about the pandemic we continue to be affected by. We are (at the time of writing) in such a fortunate here in Guernsey, while observing in sorrow the situations in Jersey and the UK. It is so easy to gloat and say “they should have responded as we did, it’s their own fault,” or even (as in the song) thank God it is them, not us, suffering.

But, they are our friends, our family, our fellow-humans, many of whom we long to see again. We should not gloat, but rather stand with them in solidarity, looking in hope towards when we can meet again.

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