Hereford Times Article - Slow to speak

Published on: 25th January 2021

Image of Bishop Richard Jackson standing besides an apple tree

"Doing stuff in anger is rarely helpful... Jesus was clear that the attitudes that lead to bad actions are potentially as bad as the actions themselves."

I saw a tweet from a friend a few days ago.It said: ‘Government agrees to licence neonicotinoids on sugar beet’, with a slightly rude comment after. I felt angry.

These things are the nasty insecticide seed dressings that were banned on oilseed rape a couple of years ago. They were making their way into the flowers and doing serious harm to bees.My immediate response (as a self-confessed remoaner) was to blame Brexit.I think it had been a particularly bad day for those who say, “I told you so”. The city had lost 6.5 billion of trade to Europe on day one, with only the prospect of 1.2 billion in new business from Switzerland to compensate. Trade was drowning in paperwork as some of the devil in the detail of the Brexit negotiations came out, and worst of all lorry drivers were having their ham sandwiches seized at the Dutch border! That will do ‘remoaning’ for now – the deal is done and we’ll have to make the best of it. I happen to think the opportunities for more sustainable agriculture of getting out of the Common Agricultural Policy are quite exciting.

Back to insecticides.I thought I should research further, rather than retweet and stoke anxiety. It turns out the truth behind my friend’s headline tweet about neonicotinoids is a restricted permission in response to a nasty disease that can’t be treated any other way. Sugar beet does not flower, so it cannot affect the bees. Flowering weeds that might take it up from the soil are usually well controlled in sugar beet. So, actually a measured decision, reviewed each year, rather than a permanent reduction in agricultural standards as a result of Brexit.

It made me realise that I am just as guilty of the knee jerk reactions to a social media posts as anyone else is. It is not really a medium that encourages rational argument, as the currently departing President of the USA illustrates. Experience has taught me you should never respond to anything without hearing both sides of the story. Doing stuff in anger is rarely helpful. Angry words can encourage rioting. Jesus was clear that the attitudes that lead to bad actions are potentially as bad as the actions themselves.My friend’s tweet was a reality check.I need to dust off that ‘angry of Hereford file’ and make sure I let stuff simmer in it for 24 hours before sending. Perhaps we all need to dust off ours as well?


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