A year for celebration

Mehru Fitter’s hopes for 2018 and her advice for the younger generations

You may be aware that Coventry has won the bid to be the UK’s City of Culture from 2021. Mehru Fitter, who’s service for the communities of Coventry have been recognised by Her Majesty, and who’s the secretary of the Positive Images Festival is always on the lookout for events that can be celebrated in a way that brings people together, so it is no surprise she is excited for 2018.

“Well, first, 2018 is going to be the year when Coventry Cathedral marks its 100th anniversary, or rather the Diocese of Coventry does.” It means that it was one hundred years ago that a district of the church was formed here, that consist of Coventry and Warwickshire. It also means that the Cathedral got its “cathedral” status. “That will be a cause for celebration.” She said with a smile.

The armistices that mark the end of the Great War, or First World War also were a hundred years ago. “We always should celebrate the end of wars, because they usher in peace.” Mehru said.

I asked her about those for whom the end of that terrible war brought mostly pain. We shouldn’t forget that there are countless Eastern-European immigrants who live in the United Kingdom, and for example people from Hungary have a vastly different memory of the end of the war than someone from France or India. “I believe that we must learn from history. We must learn not to repeat the mistakes of history. We must learn to forge new friendships.”

Coventry has been a pioneer in forging new friendships. After the Second World War, after it was heavily bombed it made a twin town pact with Dresden, which was also bombed during the war. This pact is more special because they were on opposing sides during the war, but after a few years in an act of peace and reconciliation they made this pact. Mehru hopes that “as far as communities with a negative feeling towards the end of the war are concerned, I hope our differences and ill feelings are going to be a thing of the past”

Differences and diversity are very important for her. When I asked about her opinion on communities mixing or keeping a distance from each other, she told me that “It’s true that many communities do their own thing. But things are now changing, and changing in such a way that communities are beginning to involve other communities.” She mentioned the case of a recent event where a Roman Catholic church in the western part of the city started a dialogue with the nearest Islamic community about islamophobia. “That event was a model for the city.” In her opinion.

Although the student population and the general population of the city don’t always see eye-t-eye, she believes that it’s a wonderful thing that so many nationalities are represented by students in the city. She has one advice, though, to those who she sees walking around in groups with the same background, region of origin-wise. “One needs to become a citizen of the world. Your community is a source of strength for you, however there is a lot of beauty and charm in friendships that cross faith and cultural boundaries.”

Who could have said it any better?

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