You in your small corner and I in Mine
When I was around 5 years old, I went to Sunday school. I liked the people, I liked the other kids, but what I remember most is one song that they always sang. I guess I sang it too as I can still remember all the words; maybe you know it too. It starts off with, “Jesus Bids Us Shine” and ends with the line, “you in your small corner and I in Mine.” I hated that line; I still don’t like it now. I don’t think I liked corners and particularly not small ones; I certainly did not want to be in one.
When I was 11 years old I made my first trip, as the Brits say, “overseas”. I went to France with my school for a week. We travelled third class, as you could in those days, on a ferry across the channel to St Malo. Third class meant that you could not go inside the ferry; you had to stay on deck come rain or shine. They did give you a blanket and you could snuggle up to the funnel to keep warm.
It was great fun in a hotel in Dinard with loads of school friends; however I remember thinking way back then how different France was, not just the scenery and the language but everyone seemed to be much more aware that there was a big world out there, other countries that spoke different languages, and many of the young people spoke French, Breton, and English. Some it seemed spoke German and Dutch too. It struck me then at 11 years old, that I lived on an island, and these people lived on a continent. In a sense, I was in a corner, and these people were more aware of the world than I.
Recently I have again been made aware of the small corner thinking that is around me. I talk to supposedly well educated people who, when asked, who is the new Labour leader of the opposition, in the Westminster parliament, they do not know. I listened to my wife talking to a full hairdresser’s salon about the abduction of people by terrorists, and discovered she was the only one there who knew anything about it. They were shocked to discover from her that such terrible things are going on in our world. Do they not have TV’s or ever see a newspaper, I ask myself.
What is it that makes us want to live in a corner? What is it that gives us this disinterest in the rest of the world? Is it selfishness? Is it a complete lack of concern for our fellow human beings? Maybe we are just hard hearted? Why do we not take an interest in our world?
As a follower of Jesus, and I know many people who read what I write say they are Christians. We need to know that Scripture commands us to do things in the world. He never told us to live in a corner, rather we are told to care for strangers.
So what is going on? We are not stupid, are we? Are we really that uninformed, could we really not care about how we are governed, or what is happening in the rest of the world?
Do we really not know that we, the world, are facing the largest displacement of human beings ever? Do we not know that this will affect us all, do we have no response?
Do you live in your corner? Do you like it there?
Edited by Kirsty de Paor