No. 41 - 25th June 2017

The doorbell rang at about seven o’clock one evening last week. I opened the door, and two little cub scouts burst excitedly into their routine as they tried to sell me a programme for their Fiesta Day on Saturday. The smaller one was so excited he could hardly get the words out, and to be honest, I couldn’t really understand what he was saying. I thought he was trying to sell me a programme for the Uckfield Festival, which my wife had just been reading out loud to me as we were driving home. However, I said nothing about that and bought a copy anyway. I asked how many they’d managed to sell, and the little boy said they hadn’t sold any. We were the first. He had tried at another house, but they already had a copy. I could see Akela hovering protectively in the background and thought, I’m glad someone’s looking after these little ones. They were so unimaginably cute, my wife said she wished she could have bottled them. Their innocent enthusiasm was an absolute tonic.

Ernest Hemingway once wrote that “All things truly wicked start from innocence.” Well, I find it hard to imagine that the terrorists in Manchester and London were once innocent little children like these ones. It’s hard to believe that people can change so much when they grow up. What is it about the “knowledge of good and evil” that destroys lives so quickly. Is it not possible for us to hang on to some of that innocence? Or is it even desirable? Many would sneer at the suggestion, because what we really aspire to in this country is a sophisticated society, by which we mean no barriers or inhibitions that might spoil my chance of living life to the full.

Unfortunately, the world is full of violence and deceit and manipulation, and it’s a bit of a death trap for the innocent. Jesus once said to his disciples, “I am sending you out like sheep that are surrounded by wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as a dove”. As adults we need the wisdom to know the difference between good and evil, and to then choose the good. To choose an innocent life that is without guile. A life that builds other people up rather than exploiting them. A life that reflects the love of God who made us in his own image. That’s the kind of innocence I want.

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