February 2022

A couple of weeks ago, I took part in a debate in St Mary’s Church Hitchin. The subject was disagreeing kindly or graciously. It was all about how we manage our disagreements with respect.

All of us, I think, like to be listened to even though others may disagree. Doing this well is important and the principle is a good one.

But disagreeing graciously or with kindness faces many challenges. There is the challenge of social media in which some people become abusive and even threaten violence to those they disagree with. There is the challenge of the‘cancel culture’ which makes certain views untenable.

As a professional mediator, I deal with many cases where emotions run high, disagreement is being expressed most ungraciously, and where litigation is extremely fraught. It may seem rather basic to say that the Christian principle of loving our neighbour must include respecting their point of view even where we disagree significantly with it. It is often helpful in these circumstances to identify the issue in dispute, and to depersonalise it, because if we do this we can “play the ball and not the person“.

For the rest, may I remind you that the period of Lent begins on 2 March, and that there will be a service on Ash Wednesday, 2 March at All Saints at 8.00pm.

With every blessing,