As is it summer it would be normal to be writing this column about the lighter side of life, but many of my constituents have felt deeply aggrieved and saddened by recent events in Gaza, Israel, Iraq and Syria.
The destruction of homes and schools and the loss of so many lives in Gaza. The atrocious tweet by a British MP that “if I lived in Gaza would I fire a rocket? – probably yes”. The plight of Christians in Iraq forced from their homes or forced to deny their faith. The gruesome beheading of a journalist… for what?
For once, the media have not had to exaggerate events. We strain for action to alleviate grief but also feel futility in how each of us, as individuals can make a difference. The response of political leaders of all stripes, both here and in other democracies is failing to connect with how we feel in our hearts. In the absence of a dialogue that connects us lies potential for our differences to grow, our views to entrench and for extremists to agitate.
At a meeting I held with constituents on Gaza there were practical suggestions: an ending to UK licensing for arms sales to Israel; a lifting of the trade embargo on Gaza; progressing the stalled development of offshore gas reserves. Agree or disagree with each, but we were having a dialogue.
In another dialogue, last Sunday many people attended a meeting at Kings Arms church with Canon Andrew White, vicar of Baghdad, to hear his experiences in giving help and spiritual support to those affected by conflict.
In the past I have felt it unwise to wade in to issues, particularly those in the Middle East, that seem so intractable. I was wrong. For the sake of our own humanity, we need to keep talking.