Tony Blair, a Book Burning and a Basin of Water


‘Mine is the first generation able to contemplate the possibility that we may live our entire lives without going to war or sending our children to war. ‘ Tony Blair, ex-British Prime Minister

You’d have to be living 12 miles up a one track mountain road in the UK with no TV, no mobile phone signal and no internet to avoid knowing that ex-British Prime Minister Tony Blair has just published his memoirs.  The book is entitled ‘The Journey’, which I thought was a bit vague, I mean isn’t ‘The Journey’ what everyone calls every experience – from their time on Dancing With the Stars to deciding to have plastic surgery?

Anyway, apparently he wants people to know what it’s like being a leader with a hundred and one life changing decisions to make over your Cornflakes.  Nobody knows how hard life is until they have walked a mile in your shoes.  Which brings me to shoes. People are throwing shoes at Tony Blair.  

It all started during a televised press conference in Iraq when an enraged local TV reporter called Muntadar al-Zeidi threw his shoes at George Bush with the words ‘This is a gift from the Iraqis.This is a farewell kiss, you dog!’.  Al-Zeidi was arrested, although he received a bravery award from the Libyans and much support across the Middle East. Strange days indeed.

So now people are throwing shoes at Tony Blair.  He’s just trying to do what all famous people who want to sell books do – book signings.  Or he would do if the shoe throwing stopped. In an conversation with respected US interviewer Charlie Rose, Blair seemed baffled by the anger of those doing the throwing.  Was it because they felt abandoned by him?  Or were they just plain irrational?

I would hazard the guess that the shoe throwers are expressing the mood of those who felt angry about the following. That a leader who spent much of his time talking about his faith and doing the right thing should lead us into a war that many did not feel was legitimate or would reap long term benefits for anyone.  A war that, at best, many felt our leaders misled us about. For a lot of people it did not feel like the ‘right thing’, especially when it seemed to be cloaked in half truths and hidden agendas.

And our children are going off to fight.  And they are coming homes in pieces or in a coffin.  Nearly every night another soldier, another UK father, son or daughter has been killed because now we are at war in Afghanistan as well.

I am not a world leader and I don’t know what it’s like to wield the power of life and death over my Cornflakes. But I see people talking about their faith in the God I serve and I wonder.  Did Jesus ever advocate war as the best way to deal with hatred, fanaticism or violence?  Did Jesus ever advocate violent protest to overcome injustice, bigotry or oppression?  Did Jesus ever take on the hated Romans who kept His people enslaved to their will?

No, He led by example.  Jesus washed feet.  He didn’t lie to get people to do what He wanted, He didn’t throw shoes or publicly declare that he was going to burn anyone else’s Holy Book.  He healed people despite those who were appalled by His healing, He loved people that many said He should despise, He championed those who others said He should ignore.

He took violence, righteous indignation, ignorance, bigotry, greed, pride, injustice and blasphemy to the cross with Him.  They are the nails that held Him down.

So the question is, if we truely love Him and profess to serve Him are we going to throw shoes or wash feet?  Leader or not, it is our turn to choose. There is no doubt that the answer will shape this, our 21st Century after His birth.

He believes in you 🙂