In February 2012, we visited Charleston in the USA. A beautiful city, a wonderful holiday. What I remember the most is the carefree feeling of our young family strolling through the city centre. The wonderful hospitality of the people of Charleston. Eating dinner in a homely restaurant, being approached by perfect strangers who would comment on our cutie daughter and ask where we were from and chat to us. All in that American way that is casual enough to make you feel welcome, but not so intrusive that you’d feel uncomfortable.

And yet, sitting in that middle class restaurant, there were no black faces. This struck me as something odd in a city where black people were a large section of the population. Increasingly, we create ghettos for ourselves in the world. And today, when the world mourns nine lives needlessly lost, I cannot help but wonder if unity and understanding between the races will follow someday. The law changed decades ago,  yet there’s part of the population who views their neighbours as an unknown element.

It haunts me terribly that this young man was welcomed with the traditional Methodist warmth. And yet he chose to shoot those bullets to end their lives, driven by hatred.

And I hope and pray that with our help, the world will change in our lifetime. Until this happens, the past will never be a foreign country.

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