I am afraid. As well as being afraid of a large group of people and what they might do when they descend on my home town next Saturday, I am also more than a bit ashamed of my own fear.
Next Saturday, July 9th, there is a planned 'demonstration' by the English Defense League in Halifax. The EDL often feel the need to exercise their right to publicly protest about their racist beliefs, particularly in areas with highly multi-cultural populations. They are coming here, apparently in their thousands, and the consensus of opinion seems to be that they're just looking for a fight. I am upset that there is apparently a reasonable level of local support for this activity too.
My gut instinct is that such action should be met with peaceful protest, with the celebration of the friendships and strength which exists in the town. However I am also logically convinced by the idea of managing such a protest as a 'non-event' - not drawing attention to it, not giving it the energy it needs to feed on, essentially making it not worth the bother with the crushing power of disinterest. Some folks in the area are going with the former course of action - and there will be a meeting of celebration in the People's Park. I hope many more than will go to the celebration will take the latter option.
I am glad the celebration is happening, but I am afraid to go. I fear the drunken violence which these people are looking for, I fear the reaction they hope to and may provoke in others. I'm afraid to take a risk because I'm a mum and a wife and want me and mine to be safe. I'm ashamed of this too.
I will offer my weakness to God and spend this week praying and asking everyone I meet to pray for Halifax on Saturday July 9th. Pray for those who are afraid, for those who want a fight, for the police force who will put themselves between one and the other, for the diverse faith and cultural communities of this town who have a great willingness to show love, hospitality and generosity in the way they live alongside one another.