“There’s no such thing as bad publicity.” Those words have been attributed to a few different people, most notably the American showman PT Barnum. But even though we might be tempted to agree with the sentiment (like Oscar Wilde’s “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about”) in reality it is wrong.
Colchester is in the national news at the moment. Over the past couple of months there have been two brutal murders in Colchester. That’s definitely not good publicity. There has been a lot of speculation in the media about this. That’s definitely not good publicity. A local newspaper ran the headline “Maniac in our midst”. That’s definitely not good publicity.
It’s not good publicity when someone publicly falls from grace. It’s not good publicity when Christians make crass statements about the end of the world being on a particular (now past) date. It’s not good publicity when a footballer bites another one during a match at the World Cup (allegedly – it’s not proven yet despite what we saw on TV).
So what are we to do in those cases? We have a couple of choices: we can be interested as impartial observers. We can relish the details, especially if they are salubrious. We can become fearful, upset or angry. We can speculate about those parts of the events that we don’t know, filling in the gaps. We can spread the news (aka gossip). We can take the moral high ground, tut loudly, and denounce those who are (in our minds) guilty.
Or we can pray. I want to invite you to do that now for our town (even if you don’t live in Colchester).
Please pray for the families and friends of James Attfield and Nahid Al Manea – the victims of these savage attacks.
Please pray for the communities of Colchester and the University of Essex, particularly those who live near the places where the murders took place.
Pray for the police and those investigating the crimes.
Pray for those who are gripped by fear.
Pray for the perpetrators.
Pray for God’s peace and love.
How will you respond to the next bad publicity you hear?
Be blessed, be a blessing