THE CALLS for unity from both the Queen – and Archbishop of York – in their respective Christmas messages are even more apropos at the end of another difficult and divisive year that has seen cherished values like tolerance and respect challenged by a corrosive culture of intolerance and disrespect which came to the fore during the election campaign.
Yet, as rival political parties and factions begin a Christmas truce and join the rest of the country in showing a generosity of spirit towards others in this season of goodwill, it is hoped that Her Majesty’s words of wisdom, and the outgoing Archbishop’s desire for Britain to regain its “sense of unity, peace and love of neighbour”, will ultimately prevail in 2020.
And while Parliamentarians, and other national figures, are duty-bound to lead by example on this journey of reconciliation, the smallest of gestures at a local level – even just checking up on the wellbeing of an elderly neighbour who is living on their own or taking them to the shops – can make a world of difference.
Such deeds also go to the core of Dr John Sentamu’s mission here in God’s Own County as the most youthful 70-year-old in the land, and his devoted wife Margaret, prepare for their final Christmas in York before retiring next summer. Here is an Archbishop, whose alacrity will be much missed by so many, whose Church and charitable work, since his inspired appointment in 2005, has been a constant reminder of the importance of putting others first.
Humbled by this county’s response to the recent floods in South Yorkshire that brought out the best in humanity, the Archbishop observes in today’s newspaper: “It heartens me greatly that Yorkshire folk so often set an example of what it means to live in unity and care and compassion for each other.” Long may this last. A very happy Christmas to one and all.