Magna Carta links

Magna Carta links
At the Library of Congress in Washington

Friday, 26 August 2016

What truly matters - #CompassionateLincoln

I have written about school children writing their Magna Carta for the 21st century. Behind the scenes a group of us have been working out what a charter may look like for Lincoln.

It’s not about barons, great clashes of power, but ordinary people who live in this city. We’ve made a video of it. Please take a look.

It begins with the premise that everyone can make difference. You don’t have to be powerful or important; every small act of kindness can change someone’s day.

It is all about caring for our fellow human being, being compassionate; that is why we called it #compassionatelincoln.

It’s not trite; it matters. During and after the referendum campaign it became clear to me just how much it matters. It states our belief that everyone should be treated equally, with consideration and respect.

Who is ‘everyone’? I heard of a conversation between two people with eastern european accents where both agreed that, post Brexit, it was probably safer to speak only English. I was shocked and thought of the very long standing Polish communities in Lincolnshire. I also thought of a piece of paper I had found in my researches: the list of those British officers awarded Polish honours after WW2; my Dad was one of them. With the paper there were letters expressing in very moving language the gratitude of the Polish people. This is a relationship of equals that goes back a long way.

The charter goes on to say that we are a city that accepts everyone, whatever their situation, and gives them the support they need to play an active part in local life. That people are accepted matters, but mattering only really comes with involvement.

If I put on my Drill Hall hat, as an arts centre we can only truly do our job if we are there for everyone in our community. This is not just about everyone coming to watch professional performances, but also that we can be a space where everyone can perform.

All of us know that harm can come just as easily from words as from acts. The charter states that, through our words and actions, we take care of those around us and actively strive to avoid causing anybody hurt.

It is sadly true now that those of our fellow citizens who have come from other EU countries feel at risk. The confusing words coming from government don't help. Daily lives though run their course in spite of government, and so what truly matters is what we do and say each day. Is there something wrong with striving to avoid causing hurt?

Possibly one of the bravest claims in the charter is that compassion breaks down all barriers, whether they be political, religious, social or cultural. We need to be city without barriers. I remember leafletting on the High Street with ‘us’ on one side and the ‘opposition’ on the other. Somewhere in the middle was a group campaigning to save the Fire Station for the city. I think perhaps that they had a lot to teach the rest of us.

#CompassionateLincoln is a campaign for everyone. We all have a part to play. Where difficulties affect our city or our community, we all can help. You can find us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/compassionatelincoln/

This piece was published in the Lincolnshire Echo on 25 August 2016, although I must point out that I ceased to be Chief Executive of Lincoln Cathedral on 31 March 2014. I am now a writer and chair of trustees at Lincoln Drill Hall


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