Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Thought for the Day December 11th 2013

As delivered at Radio Bristol this morning:

Why don't more people walk into each other in busy shopping centres?

Silly question? We can all think of the person who trod on our foot or bumped us with their trolley. But few impacts occur. We size up the person coming towards us and with a deft movement pass them on the left or the right.

James Surowiecki wrote a lovely little book about this called 'The Wisdom of Crowds' - sub-titled 'why the many are smarter than the few'. He explained that we seem born to co-operate.

Whether it be the relationship between cyclist and motorist, or the studious silent students and the busy building contractors, we all have to learn to get along. On some occasions we give way; sometimes others do.

But Nelson Mandela taught us, better than compromise, where we both lose something, is reconciliation. It's a brilliant word. In a compromise both parties have to give something up. In reconciliation we find a new way which takes into account the hopes and aspirations of both sides.

We are going on holiday. I want a cruise. You want to ski. A compromise - water skiing - would not suit either of us. Reconciliation asks what we each want. I want sun. You want activity. As long as money is no object a safari might suit us both.

The death of Jesus on the cross, the Bible tells us, reconciles God's love with his justice. A new way is made possible by the most unlikely means.

This side of eternity we have no choice but to try and be reconcilers ourselves, resolving our differences with conversation.

Go carefully in the crowds today and marvel at your ability to avoid collisions.


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