Refugees are not new to our society

Thought for the Week: 19th January 2014
Refugees are not new to our society

During this season of the Epiphany we remember the Holy family fleeing from Bethlehem and then travelling to Egypt and then finally arriving in Nazareth. A very long, arduous and perilous journey with a young child. In the world we live almost every newspaper sees the sight of people on the move from one country to another or the fear of Romanians and Bulgarians moving from their country for work.

And if you take note of scaremongers to steal and or to use our social security system to their benefit.

If I look into my own family tree I celebrate the fact that I had a maternal great grandfather who came out of Ireland looking for work and founded a very successful carnation business in Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire, or my Scottish maternal great grandfather who came to London looking for work and founded a leather business fitting out young men with artificial legs and arms following the First World War and then finally a mother- in-law who fled Nazi Germany at the end of the war and was literally starving until she met a handsome British soldier who asked her to marry him. So my children come from a very mongrel background except one thread that is woven in our family history is that we have always worked hard and we have always contributed towards society.

From my own experience in Fakenham, which has a large number of Polish and Latvian residents who work in the factories, is that we have few problems with them and far more with those in the town who are the long term local professionally unemployed and come from families which have never worked in their lives! .

That we in Norfolk can trace our ancestry back to Homo Erectus who travelled across Europe 1 million years ago to settle in Norfolk and their remains have been found in Happisbourgh Caravan site, is also amazing. Whatever we think of immigration we have always been a country where people come and go and through this the nation is strengthened.

But I am not completely stupid I realize that there will be immigrants who will rob and steal to use the system and then go home having caused chaos but they will be in a minority. Take immigrants out of Fakenham and all the factories would close tomorrow.

The season of the Epiphany is all about showing Christ to the world, and if when people come to us for help often during difficult times we totally reject them, then we are going against the good news of the Epiphany story. The fact that the wise men brought valuable and important gifts is important but we may forget that they were probably Persian and were Zoroastrians and such were pagan and worshiped pagan gods.

It was these very clever and probably wealthy men that brought Jesus gifts and acknowledged him as King of the Jews.

The Epiphany is about travel, about escaping possible death, about being a refugee, about kindness shown to travellers and about the hand of God in people s life what has changed over the years.

Adrian Bell

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