Monday, 5 November 2012


Post by Graham

I suppose over the four years or so I have been leading our service that it has become abundantly clear that I have a fascination with the Second World War. Often I have referred to it, used passages from German literature about it in my address and inevitably drawn conclusions from it.

 I suppose my fascination started when, at the age of 15 in 1955, I spent the whole of the summer holidays with a German family who had invited me to their home in Eschweiler, near Aachen. Whilst I was there, but not immediately on arrival, I discovered that the father of the family, who kept a very low profile in the house, had only recently been released from a British prison as a member of the hated SS. I actually found him to be a kind man and began to wonder even then, at the age of 15, how someone, whom I considered thoroughly decent, could have lent himself to unspeakable evil.

 A little later I started my A-level German course and began to read the most wonderful poetry of Goethe and others, study the works of Lessing, the great liberal thinker and rationalist of the 18th century, and continued to wonder how a country with such a rich cultural heritage (just think of its music!) could have descended into such barbarism. And all this had taken place in my lifetime, born as I was in September 1939 just three weeks after the war started. I still can't fully realise it even today.

 I wondered where the men of conscience were at the time. Why hadn't they made a stand against Hitler? Of course, as I delved further into modern German literature and history, I discovered that there were such people, many of whom we in this country have overlooked, so that the prevailing view, in Britain particularly, is that all Germans were easily swayed by Hitler and his ideas and showed no conscience about the atrocities their country was committing.

  Just recently I was reading an interview with that venerable astronomer and one-time TV presenter, Patrick Moore. For him it would seem the Second World War hasn't yet ended as he came out with this disgraceful remark: 'The only good Kraut is a dead Kraut'  which he followed with: 'I suppose there can be some honourable decent Germans. I haven't met them myself, but I'm sure they exist.' If only to correct such bigoted views, with Remembrance Sunday in the offing, when peace and reconciliation should be at the forefront of our mind, I thought this morning it might be a good idea to look at some Germans, amongst others, who made their own personal stand against evil and proved that in Germany too there were men of conscience.

 One that stands out is, of course, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. What a man! Born into a prominent middle-class family in 1906 (his father was Professor of Neurology and Psychiatry at the University of Berlin) Bonhoeffer decided at about the age of 14 he wanted to be a Lutheran pastor and in time succeeded in his ambition. He was not only a prominent theologian, however,  but also an exceptional pianist and sportsman.

 From the moment Hitler came to power in 1933 -in fact two days after Hitler was installed as Chancellor- Bonhoeffer delivered a radio address attacking Nazism. He increasingly became a thorn in the flesh of the Nazi regime, was frequently thwarted by the Nazis in his work as a founding member of the  so-called Confessional Church which strongly opposed the German Christian movement. This had had allied itself with Nazi racism, something the Confessional Church couldn't countenance. PAUSE  As early as1938 Bonhoeffer had secretly associated himself with the German Resistance that made several attempts on Hitler's life. He was finally arrested in1943 but it was not until after the failed Stauffenberg Plot of July 1944 that the authorities were able to prove his involvement with the rebels. He was kept for 18 months in Berlin and was then shipped off firstly to Buchenwald Concentration Camp and finally Flossenbuerg where he was hanged in 1945, just 23 days before the Nazis surrendered.

  Perhaps Bonhoeffer's religious philosophy was quite different from Unitarianism, for his writings sometimes reveal a criticism of liberal theology, but at the same time he showed a remarkable commitment to social justice, and he firmly believed that a Christian should not retire from the world but should act within it according to his conscience. Can we these days really appreciate the courage it took for one man, in such dreadful times, to remain firm to his principles and so bring about his own death? His philosophy is summed up in these words of his: 'When a madman is tearing through the streets in a car, I can, as a pastor who happens to be on the scene, do more than merely console or bury those who have been run over. I must jump in front of the car and stop it.'

 He was not the only one to resist Nazism, of course. There were many others, from Stauffenberg himself and his fellow conspirators to all those brave people in occupied countries who openly fought in their resistance movements or those who sheltered Jews at great cost to themselves. Just one example is Miep Gies who died in 2010 at the age of 100. She it was who secretly housed and shielded the Frank family in Holland. If she had been discovered she would have faced execution. It was Miep Gies who discovered and preserved Anne Frank's diary after the family's arrest. There were others like her who put themselves at great risk in helping Jews in occupied Europe. Oskar Schindler is another who took that risk and, as we know, his achievements have been well documented in literature and film.

 Talking about films, I wonder if you saw some years ago the film called 'Sophie Scholl- The Final Days'? It told the story of Hans Scholl and his sister Sophie, who were students at Munich University during the war years. They founded a passive resistance movement in 1942 called 'The White Rose' and they distributed leaflets  in Munich, especially in the university itself, calling for the restoration of democracy in Germany and for social justice. They also daubed anti- Nazi slogans on walls and the sides of houses. They were arrested in 1943, brought before that fearsome Nazi judge Roland Freisler and were summarily executed by guillotine. Sophie was just 22 when she died. Sophie, like Bonhoeffer, was influenced by her Christian faith. She was a Lutheran but was also greatly impressed by the writings of Cardinal Newman and his so-called 'theology of conscience'.

 These, of course, are all well-known names but there were countless others about whom we know almost nothing. One such couple were Elise and Otto Hampel, and their story forms the basis of this novel by Hans Fallada called in English 'Everyman Dies Alone'. It's a great story that I am sure you would enjoy. PAUSE. The Hampels were a poorly educated, working class couple living in Berlin. After Elise's brother was killed early in the war, the couple commenced a 3-year propaganda campaign that baffled- and enraged- the Berlin police who eventually handed over the case to the Gestapo. Their campaign consisted simply of leaving hundreds of post cards all over Berlin. These cards were often badly written and misspelt, but they all called for civil disobedience . The Hampels blanketed the city so thoroughly and eluded capture so successfully that the Gestapo came to assume they were dealing with a large, sophisticated underground resistance. Eventually they were caught and executed by beheading in Ploetzensee Prison in Berlin in March 1943.
 It's a grim place is Ploetzensee! Chris and I went there a few years ago. It has been left very much as it was in the war years and you feel the ghosts of those who were liquidated there. The hooks are still on the walls where the Nazi-resisters were hanged, This story of the Hampels is a story of ordinary people. As a newspaper review of this book, that was published after Fallada's death in 1947, stated: 'This isn't a novel about bold cells of defiant guerrillas but about a world in which heroism is defined as a personal refusal to be corrupted'.

 It's not only in Nazi Germany, of course, that we see examples of personal defiance and resistance. Have you ever thought how much courage it takes to stand up and speak out when the stakes are high, even today,  in a democratic country like our own? Only recently I was reading about so-called whistle-blowers in the NHS who have had the guts to denounce publicly malpractice, corruption or poor care, often risking their jobs in the process. According to the doctor who wrote this article they are the unsung heroes of the health service. They often receive appalling treatment from furious managers, and last year an investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and Channel 4 found that doctors routinely had to sign contracts forbidding them to talk publicly about the trust they worked for. Being forced to keep silent, of course, put patients' welfare at risk, and some were simply not prepared to go along with this. Little has been done up to now to protect such people, but, fortunately, things are slowly changing. Yes, everywhere we look we see people in all walks of life willing to sacrifice themselves in the cause of conscience. A pity there weren't more prepared to do the same when they worked with Jimmy Savile at the BBC some decades ago!

 What about the courage of our Unitarian forebears? There are plenty who fought against the prevailing system throughout the years, as we know, but I shall mention just one. He was really an early precursor of us Unitarians in the 16th century and you have undoubtedly heard of him. It was Michael Servetus who died because he refused to accept the doctrine of the Trinity. He was born in Spain and brought up as a Roman Catholic. When he went to university in Spain and later France and began to study the Bible, he came to the conclusion that the doctrine of the Trinity was not biblically based. This is what we Unitarians say today, of course, as do some other sects, Jehovah Witnesses amongst them.

 I can't say I get my knickers in a twist when there is talk of the Trinity today. It is certainly not the main reason I consider myself a Unitarian. In the 16th century, however, to deny the Trinity was blasphemy of the highest order. In his two treatises 'Errors of the Trinity' and 'Dialogues on the Trinity' Servetus argued that Jesus was not to be equated with God; he was rather the supreme revealer of God and thus could be considered divine.

 Because of his writings Servetus was hotly pursued by the Spanish Inquisition and, in order to escape, he disguised himself  and assumed another name (Michael de Villeneve). To complete his transformation, he sought a change of career and took up the study of medicine. He proved to be as good a physician as theologian. He became physician to the Archbishop of Vienna, and he suggested a theory of the circulation of the blood which has stood the test of time He continued with his theological work, however, and wrote another work, which he published anonymously called 'The Restitution of Christianity'. Suspicion grew that he was the author of this work and the Inquisition sought his arrest. He escaped to Geneva, a bad move as it was here that Calvin held sway. He had Servetus apprehended and he was burnt at the stake for his beliefs in1553. PAUSE

A pretty extreme example of a man not prepared to sacrifice his beliefs and conscience!

 Enough of history- what about us? Do we have the courage to stand by our Unitarian convictions when they are challenged? Do we defend Muslims when they, as an entire group, are attacked and verbally abused? Do we say they worship the same God as us, even if their religious practices are so very different? Do we speak up when someone casually says that this country is going to the dogs because we have let too many immigrants in ? Do we have the courage to say that this country is all the better for being a multi-cultured society? That, should all the immigrants be sent back home to the country of their birth, then our hospitals, care-homes, restaurants and hotels would all be in dire straits?

 I don't know whether you read a blog from Ash last February discussing racism in Britain? He talks about contesting racial views when we hear them, not quietly accepting the venom and hatred that pours forth from the mouths of some. He was making exactly the same point as I am trying to make here. Let's stand up for what we believe to be right and speak our minds. Ash closes his blog with this comment, and I repeat it here for it is terribly relevant to my message this morning. Ash writes and I quote: 'The more we challenge such matters, be it in the pub, at the match or in the shop, the sooner we will all be able to live in a truly tolerant, integrated and open-minded society.'
I couldn't agree more!

And so I say to myself, as much as to you: .Let us, if only for the sake of our integrity, follow the example of those who were prepared to stand against the crowd, like the whistle blowers in the NHS, Miep Gies, Hans and Sophie Scholl, Graf von Stauffenberg, the Hampels, Bonhoeffer, Servetus and others in our Unitarian history and show the courage of our convictions. We might not swell the ranks of Unitarianism in so doing but we might persuade people that Unitarianism is not a wishy-washy faith that has nothing to offer the world in this day and age. I believe we follow a faith (as different as our  private beliefs are) that is terribly relevant in the 21st century and has much to teach the world at this time of great unrest and intolerance.

Let conscience be our guide. Let us stand up for our faith, truly believing in freedom, reason and tolerance and strive to be its  very best ambassadors. Then, if we achieve nothing else, we shall at least be true to ourselves.


Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Housing Benefit – The New Law of Settlement

Post by John Maynard (of Bewdley Quakers)

In Eighteenth Century England, relief for unemployment depended on the Laws of Settlement. If you had not worked continuously for a year in the place you lived, you had no ‘settlement’ and were not entitled to poor relief. Instead, the last place you worked for a year was deemed your place of settlement and you were sent back there – even if you had not been there for 30 years. Wives took their husband’s settlement so if a husband died, his widow and children were sent back to the last place where he had worked for a year – even if she had never been there. In short, people without work were often unable to stay in the village or town where they had lived for many years, but removed by law to somewhere else, simply to save money locally.

The Welfare Act 2012 is the new Government Law of Settlement. Under the Act, housing benefit depends on how many people live in a house. For example, single people under 35 on benefits entitled to housing benefit can only get an allowance to cover shared accommodation. If they wish to live alone, they must pay the difference between their allowance and the rent. A married couple on benefits are entitled to housing benefit for a one bedroom house. A couple with a child are entitled to rent a two bedroom house. However, if they have two children under 16 of the same sex, the children will be expected to share a room and not have a room of their own. If they have two children of different sexes, the children will be expected to share a room until they are 10.

This legislation means that elderly couples who have raised children in a three bedroom house are not entitled to remain there once their children have left home. As a couple, they are only entitled to an allowance to cover the rent of  a one bedroom  property and will be expected to move accordingly or take in lodgers. This is already having a devastating impact on families and is nothing short of social cleansing.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Just War ?

Post by Ash

Can there ever be such a thing as a `Just War` ? This question has taxed the human race since the concept first developed, at least as far back as the 4th century AD. Can it ever be right to kill others in defence of or on behalf of  one`s fellow countrymen ? How do we `square` the ethical, moral and religious issues concerned when we take a stance either way (or somewhere in-between ) on this ?
Some 1700 years of thinking on the matter can hardly claim to have resulted in a definitive and generally agreeable conclusion. We can all point to contemporary examples across the globe that attest to the continuing ability within the human condition to resolve conflict through war.

It is of course the case that there has been significant progress in mutual understanding, for example The `Universal Declaration Of Human Rights` is now into its 54th year. Yet much remains to be accomplished and for that we all have a responsibility.

To that end, a debate on the matter will be held here at Kidderminster  New Meeting House on TUESDAY 10TH JULY at 7.30 pm. There will be four Guest Speakers to put the case `for` and `against`, and the chance to listen and ask questions. We don`t expect to find any easy answers; we do hope though  to be thought-provoking and supportive  in the search for clarity, on this the most difficult of matters.
And of course, we shall as always, do our very best to ensure a warm and friendly welcome to our `New Meeting Nights` session  in this beautiful building ,for an enjoyable evening of shared ideas.

We hope you will be able to join us.All are welcome.


`Can There Ever Be A Just War ?`  

Tuesday July 10th, 2012 .

New Meeting House, Church Street, off Bull Ring, Kidderminster, DY10 2AR. (Brown Signposted off A 456 as `Unitarian Church`)

Entry Free  

Car Parking on-site (free-first come first served) or 100 m away on Swan Centre Multi Storey Car Park accessed off A456 Ring Road via Blackwell St/Coventry St.

Speakers: Sandy Ellis (Midland Unitarian Association) Martin Layton (Bewdley Quakers) Ian Kirby (Kidderminster New Meeting House) Moira Brown (Bewdley Quakers)

Chair: Graham Williams (Kidderminster New Meeting House).

Tea, Coffee, Biscuits  at 9 pm.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Sustainability and Responsibility

Post by Ian from an address given on 3rd June 2012 at New Meeting House on the subject "Sustainability and Responsibility - The Earth is a sacred place, and we belong in it".

I have struggled with this address. The subject matter is huge, and there is the problem of where to begin. Please forgive me if I jump around a little and, as always, the standard disclaimer: the thoughts being presented here are my own, for you to agree or disagree with.

As you heard earlier, with the readings from Genesis (Gen 1:20-31; Gen 9:1-17), I start by going to the beginning. Our cultural heritage places humans at the pinnacle of creation, granted dominion over the fish of the sea, of the birds of the air, and the beasts of the land. We are told, indeed given a duty, to be fruitful and multiply. We have obeyed this instruction. 

In Western culture, we accept that the resources of the Earth are our to use as we will. They were, after all, put there by God for our use. We have exported this culture, and this attitude, to the rest of the world during the many years of colonisation. The industrial revolution and the technological discoveries of the Victorian era, and beyond, to the 1950s were years of hope. The technological age was to bring prosperity, a life of ease and comfort for all. 

In Native American traditions, a  different relationship with the earth was taught. Like the majority of animistic tribal cultures, they lived within the world and granted respect to the others they shared the world with. When an animal was slain, thanks and forgiveness would be sought of the dead animal. Thanks that, by their death, they sustain the tribe. Forgiveness, for the death that has been brought on them.

A Pawnee, Letakos-Lesa or Eagle Chief stated: In the beginning of all things, wisdom and knowledge were with the animals, for Tirawa, the One Above, did not speak directly to man. He sent certain animals to tell men that he showed himself through the beast, and that from them, and from the stars and the sun and moon should man learn.

Back to Genesis for a brief moment, the other animals were also told to be fruitful and multiply. A covenant was made by God, after the flood, with all life. In Leviticus, Jews are given the instructions:  When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner. (Leviticus 19:9-10).

Thursday, 21 June 2012

The inspiring Bruce Findlow

Blog by Graham Williams from an address by him at New Meeting House
 We in the British Unitarian movement have a rich heritage to call upon when we think of some of the notable people who have espoused our beliefs. We need only to think of some of the great scientists who rejected the accepted doctrine of the day and found their way to Unitarianism: Joseph Priestley, Isaac Newton, Alexander Bell, and others, as well as great literary figures like Coleridge, Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell and many others like Beatrix Potter, George Eliot who, if not full Unitarians, had Unitarian leanings. That's not to ignore figures like Josiah Wedgewood, Florence Nightingale and great thinkers like James Martineau- the list is endless.

 At the same time we should not disregard some of the more modern protagonists of Unitarianism. Look at the green hymn book (Hymns for Living) and study the words of such people as Frank Clabburn, Sydney Knight, John Andrew Storey, Cliff Reed, amongst others, and you begin to realise that not only do we have a rich heritage but this heritage is still alive and kicking.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Freeing school meals

Post by Ash

It`s very easy in difficult times, to batten down the hatches and look after number one. Balancing the  natural determination to protect our own position, and the well-being of family and friends , against the innate need in most to support the weakest, becomes increasingly challenging. It`s easier to justify `turning our heads`. The political and media atmosphere and frequently, even the air of local conversation , are littered with caution about `wasting` even more resource . We all have to bear the pain we are reasonably told, even the poor.  It`s easier for us to be anecdotal about a scrounging sub-culture, undeserving of `handouts`; benefits reforms we may nod , are essential.
Logic of course dictates the need for caution. In common with much of the western world we are effectively `bust`. But the path to economic absolution requires long-sightedness that guards against even greater inequalities between people, down the line. Reforms and actions taken now, in the heat of austerity, must be fair to all.

So it`s an unpromising side-effect to the Government`s attempt to replace the over-complicated benefit system with a system of Universal Credit, that a significant number of our poorest families may lose access to Free School Meals once this reform is introduced.

The Children`s Society estimates that under current proposals due to be phased in from April 2013, an earnings threshold of £7,500 means that to be `passported` onto eligibility for Free School Meals, 120,000 families will be faced with the prospect of either cutting their working hours or taking a pay cut-ironically the very thing Universal Credit is attempting to prevent.
The alternative to this they estimate, is that 330,000 of our poorest children currently receiving Free School Meals ,will no longer do so, and that those families will become ,relatively speaking, poorer than if they were to remain on benefits. In addition, the obvious long-term health benefits accruing to those children from a guaranteed daily nutritious meal will be lost.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Help! I'm downshifting ….

Post by Liz
This is the new buzz word. It's cool and it's the trendy new movement, what it actually means is simplifying your life and deciding how you can live your life in accordance with your spiritual principles or ethical beliefs. The reason I'm shouting help is because it is much harder than you can imagine.

 My husband and I are slowly a little bit at a time, making changes in our lives so we can better live according to our beliefs. I have to say Martin feels the courage of his convictions more profoundly than I, in many ways he is my inspiration and I know he draws strength from his Quaker faith and testimony. Living your life in a simple way sounds fairly easy doesn't it? But many of us have been living quite a materialistic life, one that our Grandparents and Great Grandparents could only dream of. We are bombarded from birth with advertising and how we are 'entitled' to this and to that. Our lives are incredibly busy, rushing here there and everywhere, bleeping phones, endless emails, we can be found anywhere in the world. Big Brother watches over us and the big corporation supermarkets supply us with an endless array of relatively cheap goods of food and clothing.
Blissful in our ignorance we don't think where our food comes from, how it is produced, where our clothes come from and who makes them. We are happy putting our empty packaging in the recycling bin once a fortnight. Our rubbish is taken from us and hidden away. We turn on the tap without thinking, perhaps even leaving it on for a minute or two unnecessarily. We have light at the flick of a switch not caring how perhaps we are using up our resources. People drive their petrol guzzling cars even if they are too big for their real needs, but they will say they are entitled to them, they paid for them what business is it of anyone’s? We are used to convenience at others expense and it's comforting, it keeps a thin line of padding between us and the real world. We have forgotten many of our skills once so natural to us, we rely on stuff to make life happen for us. Many of us have abdicated responsibility.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Budgeting for responsibility ?

Post by Ash
A budget speech from any Chancellor of the Exchequer can generally be relied upon to stir the emotions. Yesterday`s speech by George Osborne was no exception. The following extract though is about a very different kind of `budget`- that of a `life well-led`. It`s taken from the `The Ethics Of Responsibility` by the Chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, and perhaps provides us all with a few fundamental reminders of the things that should really be `taxing` us.

`More than any previous generation in history, we have come to see the individual as the sole source of meaning.....But this selfish quest must surely be wrong. A life....spent pursuing the satisfaction of desire is less than satisfying and never actually provides all we desire. So it is worth reminding ourselves that there is such a thing as ethics, and it belongs to the life we live together and the goods we share—the goods that only exist in virtue of being shared.
This speaks to one of Judaism’s most distinctive and challenging ideas: the ethics of responsibility, the idea that God invites us to become, in the rabbinic phrase, His “partners in the work of creation.” .......Life is God’s call to responsibility and this ethic is the best answer I know to the meaning and meaningfulness of life.

When I first became a rabbi, the most difficult duty I had to perform was a funeral service. New to the position and the people, I often hardly knew the deceased, while to everyone else present he or she had been a member of the family, or an old and close friend. There was nothing to do but to get help from others. I would ask them what the person who had died meant to them. It did not take long before I recognized a pattern in their replies.
Usually they would say the deceased had been a supportive husband or wife, a loving parent, a loyal friend. They spoke about the good they had done to others, often quietly, discreetly, without ostentation. When you needed them, they were there. They shouldered their responsibilities to the community. They gave to charitable causes, and if they could not give money, they gave time. Those most mourned and missed were not the most successful, rich, or famous. They were the people who enhanced the lives of others. These were the people who were loved.

Monday, 12 March 2012

State sponsored Britishness?

Post by Liz.
There has been a great deal of talk in recent weeks of what it means to be British. Many people cry out that we have lost our identity or that our identity is being taken away from us. The Government is on a campaign to right this terrible wrong. Christianity is to be put at the fore, bibles are to be issued to every school child in Britain whether they welcome it or not, the Forward being written by non other than the Godly Gove himself. History of Empire will be taught with greater gusto in schools and our children will feel proud to be British. We shall turn our faces away from un-British things such as poverty and homelessness, we shall celebrate the mighty Olympics and worship our sporting heroes and ignore the fact that people are being priced out from their rented accommodation for this occasion, that people's homes have been destroyed and allotments given to these (not well off) people in perpetuity have been concreted over. There will be no such thing as increased human trafficking and prostitution, the 'riff-raff' are to be cleared from the London streets as I write. We shall ignore the approximately 14 billion it is costing in these times of austerity, which is more than enough to save welfare and the NHS. But I'm sure it will be a grand spectacle, I don't know, because I will not be watching it. But no one does pomp and circumstance like the British eh?

Monday, 5 March 2012

Metta matters

Post by Liz

Metta – The Practice of Loving-Kindness

I've been thinking about many things today. I have much to write about at the moment, there are many concerns both at home in our country and in the wider world and a great many wrongs being committed. The world feels particularly unbalanced at the moment. Sometimes I seem to be on an endless campaign taking up hours of my time passing on information, signing petitions, writing letters, just being generally bothersome both to the people I'm targeting and my family and friends, who probably by now just roll their eyes and think 'Oh, she's off on one again.' I could write a near endless list of all the wrongs in the world from the seeming callousness of Government, the greed of capitalism destroying the only home we have and the lives of human and non-human in it's wake. The horrors of war and genocide and the constant drum beat and sabre rattling towards Iran. The poverty, inequality, and cruelty. And I rage. Some may say I am just passionate about these things. But some days I really do rage against the injustices in the world. Some days it overwhelms me and I feel helpless and hopeless. But I listened to someone speak today, amongst many things two words stood out particularly. Ethics and stillness.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Black and white

Post by Ash

The recent concern over acts of racism both proven and alleged within the Premier League (Suarez at Liverpool and Terry at Chelsea) remind us all that the spectre of discrimination within  our society is never that far away. After all, what we see on the field of play is often no more than a reflection of what we ourselves may experience in everyday life. Yes, great strides towards eliminating such prejudice have been made, and we can rightly be pleased by our standing as one of the most racially-integrated societies in the world. But then the reminders of the distance still to be travelled are rarely far away.