Canon Prof Martin Gainsborough, Canon Theologian at Bristol Cathedral, considers what makes for strong communities in our latest blog.
When you look out the window or think about this country or the world today are you hopeful or anxious?
We are told that there is a lot of anxiety around at the moment. We only have to think of Brexit, Trump, the housing market, North Korea, or the environment to know what people mean. Or just turn on the TV or go on social media, there seems to be so much bad-temperedness about. People being rude to each other in a way which is unedifying for everyone.
But put all that to one side for a moment. Stop thinking about what you see on TV, or read on social media, and think instead about what you experience day by day in your community or in your place of work. With our electronic devices turned off, we can start to believe that the world isnt quite so bad. Try it!
One of the biggest dangers for any society is when we stop meeting people who are different from ourselves. (And strangely being connected on social media doesnt seem to help!) Ignorance of our neighbour breeds fear. Fear leads to intolerance and an inability to see that the person who is superficially different from ourselves most likely has the same hopes and fears as us, the same joys and troubles.
We can all make a difference to ensure that our communities remain open and welcoming to the stranger. Join a new group, volunteer, and go out of your way to meet people you dont normally meet. Strong communities where all can flourish depend on it, and you will probably have a good time too!