#I’llridewithyou is a better way

I wrote a blog in 2015 at the time of the Paris attacks, when extremists attacked the offices of a magazine called Charlie Hebdo. As a means of standing in solidarity with those in Paris, many people took up the #JeSuisCharlie hashtag.

But there was an issue with this. There was always a sharp edge to that hashtag, since the supporters of the magazine were using the concept of free speech to provoke a reaction. There is a tension between freedom of speech and outlawing things such as hate speech. There is a need for civility and – dare we say it – kindness that doesn’t try to irritate the other person to the point of violence. In my faith tradition we are advised not to place stumbling blocks in front of other people. You could almost call it “do not disturb the peace.”

Around the same time, there was an attack in Australia which triggered Islamophobic reactions. This came to a head when a young woman on public transport felt so oppressed by the hostile atmosphere that she felt compelled to remove her hijab. A fellow passenger noticed this, and passed her a note which simply said, I’ll ride with you.

This in turn, became another hashtag.

Now, in February 2024, in the context of the conflict in the Middle East, we are faced with similar challenges to community wellbeing. We live in a time of greater sensitivity, and fear.

What is to be done? How does an individual with faith approach this?

We feel that at such a critical time it is important not to wall ourselves off from one another, to revive the humanity and kindness behind the statement, I’ll ride with you.

What this says is: without judgement I wish to reach out to you in your humanity. We may or may not agree with each other, but we all bear the image of our Creator, and we do not want each other to live in fear. I will endeavour to be a safe place and I will stand against those who want to threaten you.

About Daniel Singleton

National Executive Director

Daniel Singleton has been the National Executive Director of FaithAction since 2007. This role has seen Daniel forge close working relationships across a number of national government departments, as well as local statutory and voluntary-sector bodies. As part of FaithAction’s mission to connect national and local government with grassroots organisations, Daniel also meets regularly with FaithAction member groups to help them develop in their social action.