My Easter Day thought for Radio Lincolnshire…
A fundamental change has taken place in English society, and it’s a change which has happened without remark or anyone taking notice! What is this revolution you might ask? Well, up until quite recently, if someone significant in football passed away then that person’s life would be marked at the very next football match with two minutes silence. It was always quite inspiring and moving to hear-or not hear-, perhaps, thirty thousand people stand in complete silence-a quiet homage to a much loved figure. When Sir Bobby Robson died, the much loved and admired manager of England and Newcastle, rather than the two minutes silence we are used to the call for remembrance of him was greeted with two minutes worth of clapping and applause. Now, all football grounds ring with such noisy acclamation whenever a local hero goes to meet his maker.
A little thing you may say, but I believe it to be a profound change: the silence denoted a common quietness and reflection on the meaning of someone’s life and how it affected the lives of the individual members of the crowd and also how a people had been united in the thrills and joys of athletic prowess. The silence was an acknowledgement that a person’s life had had meaning for us, the crowd and that we had been enriched and blessed by it. The silence suggested that there were more important things in life than mere football.
In contrast, the applause we now hear is praise for the achievements of one of our heroes: we are celebrating their success, their triumphs and their ability. As we clap a job well done and a life well-lived there is no acknowledgement of a shared frail humanity or that the light of meaning of one human life has cast its light on ours: there is only a recognition of success…a success we may not be able to match, but a success which we may envy.
Many years ago, one of my teachers asked a very bald question: ‘who do you think’ he said, ‘is the typical human being?’: ‘The Rock Star?’ ‘The Hollywood star?’ ‘The star footballer?’ ‘No’, he said, ‘the typical human being is the person crucified on a cross’.
What he meant, of course, was that the trappings of human success and worldly achievement make us believe they are the destiny and goal of all human beings, and we think we have lived less human lives if we do not achieve them. The reality is that we are only fully alive and living the good life when are prepared to sacrifice something of ourselves for others and also live in full knowledge of our frail and fleshly nature-realise our creatureliness.
Whatever one thinks about that great story of Jesus dying on the cross, most of us will be able to applaud the life of love he lived and died for, but it is only when we can stand in silence before that cross that we can really take in what it means for us. Surely that’s worth two minutes silence?