My email inbox has been dominated in the past week by two issues, ostensibly one international and one local.
But it is not as simple as that.
Internationally, I have been shocked by the events in the USA, prompted by the death of George Floyd at the hands of police. In fact, this follows from the killing of Ahmed Aubrey, who was gunned down in Georgia whilst out jogging: the killers were not even going to be charged until a video of the unprovoked shooting emerged.
Indeed George Floyd’s death was also filmed or else we may never have heard of him, and I do wonder how many black people have been killed or denied justice, just because their death was not caught on camera.
So events across the Atlantic have caused us to question our own society in the UK and in Chester. We like to think we are not racist. But when people from a black and minority ethnic background say they still face discrimination and even abuse, here, today, we have a duty to listen – and to act. We can be angry about President Trump and events in the USA but we can’t ignore problems in our own society.
The second issue people wrote about was Chester Zoo, and the government’s decision to force the closure of zoos during the pandemic (previously they had closed voluntarily.)
While other ornamental gardens are allowed to re-open, such as Kew Gardens or Alton Towers, or even shops like Ikea, our zoo has been told to shut and no date given for a possible reopening.
This despite the fact that the zoo has carefully worked-out plans, approved by council inspectors, to manage visitor numbers and regulate flows through the 128 acres of parks in the zoo.
The peak season for the zoo is now. Every week it can’t reopen is money lost that imperils the local economy and threatens jobs.
But it also threatens the vital conservation and ecological work that the zoo undertakes. Like the world-leading campaign on sustainable palm oil, designed to reduce deforestation in south east Asia. If the zoo goes under, or even if it loses lots of money, then that work stops. With massive implications for global biodiversity and climate change.
Ours is a small world. What happens in America resonates with a sense of hurt and injustice right here in Chester.
What happens in Chester has massive ecological impacts in Asia.
We are all connected. Instead of building walls, we must embrace our common humanity for a better, fairer world.