Hereford Times Article - 23/07/2020

Published on: 23rd July 2020

Bishop Richard

When people are surveyed about their driving, the majority of those surveyed claim their driving is above average. That can’t be right of course, it should be a more even distribution, and I’m not sure that we’re the best people to judge how good our driving is.I would admit to being average at best.I’m very thankful I haven’t had an accident for over 30 years.But, like all of us who drive, I make little mistakes.Mercifully, they are usually harmless.However, if you’ve made a mistake driving, you wouldn’t think that from the response you get.I appreciate those who drive for a living must get exasperated by the level of incompetence they experience on the road. I imagine all of us who’ve made mistakes driving have had the sort of response that is quite unpleasant. Swearing, gestures and other responses that the people involved probably wouldn’t offer in other contexts.There is something about being in a steel box that allows us to depersonalise the other.

From July 24th we’ll all be wearing masks a lot more to help protect the vulnerable from COVID.I’m hoping that this form of depersonalisation won’t make us all similarly unpleasant when we naturally make mistakes.When you can only see the person’s eyes a lot of the communication is lost. It will be easy to do the same sort of thing we’re prone to do when we drive and get cut up, lose a parking space or any number of other slights that get us all worked up. One of the most difficult things about COVID has been the way we’ve been disconnected from one another.Zoom and Facetime is no substitute for physical contact.

One of the things I most value about my Christian faith is an understanding of God that shows he doesn’t come down on us like a ton of bricks whenever we get stuff wrong. There is a caricature of God as an old man with white beard and a sharp stick, ready to poke us from a cloud every time we fail. When in life we choose not to take offence and make allowances for one another, something spiritual and important is going on. So perhaps we should just take some pleasure in folk’s imaginative face coverings and not be so irritable.


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