For those we’ve exiled to the edge

Throughout 2015 I have been most inspired by the huge reservoir of generosity and hospitality that I have encountered in the neighbourhoods I’ve worked in. However, and somewhat ironically, I have been most disturbed by the growing number of people we have either exiled or defined out of community life.

It’s the week before Christmas and my mind is mainly on my family, and the fun of the next few weeks that lies ahead. I love this time of year but at risk of creating a downer, it’s important to also acknowledge that it’s a time of year that is excruciatingly painful for those we have exiled, the lonely, and heartbroken.

Such people are not characters in a badly judged John Lewis Christmas ad, or even the wonderfully positioned Spanish Lottery ad. They are our flesh and blood, our children, brothers and sisters, neighbours, and they are you and me (I remember dreading Christmas after my first marriage breakup).

So the last blog of the year is for those we’ve exiled to the edge; to our prisons, residential units or behind net curtains on our fairy light twinkling streets. The message is a simple: let’s find a way to bring them back to the heart of a hospitable community, especially for those that have been incarcerated. Let’s find an community alternative to incarceration.

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A heartfelt thanks to all who build community; special thanks to those we’ve had the privilege of building community with. Happy Christmas to all who’ve done us the honour of reading this blog over 2105, and here’s to a New Year where people who’ve been defined as the problem, secure the power to redefine the problem.

Cormac Russell.

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