LETTER FROM OUR ORDINAND
There is no denying that the internet and social media has brought the world closer. Businesses are expanding, meetings are easier, information is available in larger quantities than ever before and we can stay in contact with friends and family regardless of their location. It has also given so many people who haven’t had one before. A voice. An opportunity to share and be heard. Sadly, there is also the negative side of this, and one which I feel is not just constrained to the internet. Trolls.
I’m not talking about the cool little creatures with funky hair. I’m talking about the name given to people who spend their time scouring the internet, belittling, harassing and essentially bullying others. There are of course varying extremes, but the one thing I feel it has done to all of us is it has made society slightly more critical, judgmental and harsh. Everyone feels they can openly criticise others, with the defence that ‘that’s just my opinion”. A more and more common statement I hear verbalised in conversations.
I had the pleasure today of having lunch with a very good and wise friend who shared with me his latest ‘mantra’. Which when I heard it sounded so simple and true but as I reflected more and more, I realised the implications of such a way of living. He said; “I would rather get it wrong trying to be kind than get it wrong by being harsh.”
Absolutely incredible! The first thing of course is that we should be a people who realise that at various points and to various degrees we will get things wrong. That is just life. But it’s how we hold ourselves that is important and particularly during times of difficulty. When an issue that divides people comes up, such as Brexit or the last American presidential election or the ongoing dilemma of Marmite. How do we act? Often, we get defensive, we want our viewpoint to be the right one, so we put up our guard while trying to tear down others at the same time. As parishes, there are changes coming, that is just the way it has to be.
However, these changes can be incredibly powerful and community changing. BUT and it is a massive but! Only if we approach the issues of the deanery’s future with kindness. Yes, mistakes will be made along the way. We are all human. But will these mistakes come because we were being defensive or because we were trying to do the right thing? Equally, when we see something as wrong, will we have the backbone to step back and see if this was done out of kindness? If so, is there a better way we can handle it than getting defensive? Imagine the possibilities if we started working, behaving and living like this!