Travelling to London earlier this week I was getting onto
the crowded tube at Kings Cross when a man said, ‘Hey don’t push the boy out’.
In front of him and besides me there was a boy of I guess 10. Sheepishly I
continued on but realised that the man had been right. In my haste to squeeze
onto the tube I had pushed in front of this boy, using my size, and probably experience
of the tube, in a way which was unfair and unkind to the boy. I could put my
lack of thought and care down to any number of factors – I hadn’t eaten for 15
hours and only had water to drink for 12; the train had arrived a few minutes
late so I was hurrying to get to my appointment on time; I was simply caught up
in the crowd. But actually they are all excuses and none justified the way I
acted; ignoring the child, or even worse deliberately pushing the child out.
As we proceeded I thought about my action. I got off at
Great Portland Street; so did the man and boy. So instead of walking on and out
the gates I turned around and went back to say sorry. I looked the man in the
eye and said, ‘I’m sorry; you were right. I apologise’ I shook his hand; he
thanked me. I turned and walked away; I was glad that I had acted to say sorry;
that I had literally gone against the crowd to do so. The man was surprised;
apologies on the tube don’t happen often. But just as I was feeling good about
myself it hit me – I hadn’t said sorry directly to the child. Once again I had
ignored him, put him to one side. In the crush of movement through the busy
rush hour by then it was too late to find them again and apologise to the child.
So easily even those of us who are committed to trying to
ensure children are treated equally; working hard for justice for all children;
passionate about children’s spirituality and inclusion can get it so wrong. We
can ignore the child. We can push them to one side. We can talk about them over
their heads. We can feel good about what we have done for the child when the
child has been left out.
Lord have mercy. Lord help us all to truly recognise and
honour the child.