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We must see all sides of an argument - and here’s why

PUBLISHED: 06:46 08 December 2017

The Rev Corin Child.

The Rev Corin Child.

Archant

It’s easy to find ourselves on one side of an argument when it suits us, says the Rev Corin Child. It’s up to us all to see the broader picture.

The cyclists versus motorists debate is one that lots of people have an opinion about, as regular readers of the EDP will know well. I have a particular problem with it, however; I am on both sides of the argument.

Not at the same time, mind you. Since I live on the outskirts of Norwich and work in the centre, I will often drive in and out when the roads are busy. When we all slow right down, I wonder why. It’s not bin collection day and the temporary traffic lights are somewhere else this week. Oh, of course – it’s a cyclist. Norfolk’s roads are too narrow for this. I wish these people would go somewhere else.

Sometimes, to avoid this disagreeable sort of stop-start driving, I choose a different mode of transport: I cycle. I don’t have to share much of my route with cars and lorries, but where I do, they’re infuriating, driving too close and blowing fumes in my face. I wish these people would go somewhere else.

These frustrations are mostly half-thoughts that I don’t examine very carefully. If I stop and think about it, though, there’s something not quite right here. How come the cyclists are always wrong when I’m driving and vice versa? I’m reluctant to admit it, but behind the outrage is an insidious kind of selfishness. I choose the point of view that suits me most depending on the situation.

Christians use certain times of year, including Advent, to try and be honest about our behaviour, whether at home, at work, or travelling between the two. The aim is to think better thoughts, and to ask who we need to make room for (two reliable answers are God and other people). There is a seasonal prayer that sums it up well: “We pray you, Lord, to purify our hearts, that they may be worthy to become your dwelling place. Let us never fail to find room for you, but come and abide in us.”

The challenge to my driving habits is to make space for others rather than trying to protect my own space. Perhaps I should take the bus…

The Rev Corin Child is a Church of England chaplain at Norwich School and a Priest Vicar of Norwich Cathedral.

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