Archbishop contributes to 'Love where you Live' initiative on BBC Radio 2
Thursday 21st May 2009As part of Radio 2's Love Where You Live campaign, the Archbishop of Canterbury delivers a special Pause For Thought which reflects on community and the value of being neighbourly, hosted by Terry Wogan.
BBC Radio 2's Love where you Live campaign launches Monday 18th May. With hard times upon us, Radio 2 celebrates the spirit of the local community. The local neighbourhood is the bedrock of our nation and Radio 2 is going on a journey to the heart of it.
Click link on the right to listen to the Archbishop's Pause for Thought [2Mb]
Read the transcript below:
Thinking of the [BBC Radio 2 'Love where you Live'] campaign, the first thing that came to mind is the saying 'I'm a great lover of humanity – it's just the people I can't stand'. I can't remember who said that first but it does a lot of bells, I'm afraid; the fact that it's obviously nonsense reminds us that it's really no use making noises about how much people ought not to get into conflicts with each other and how sad it is when they turn their backs on reconciliation unless we show some sign of being ready and willing ourselves to get involved with the people next door.
At the moment, all of us are probably feeling disoriented as we look at the state of our society, wondering how we can hold together as a nation. The awful risk is that we somehow get to think that the way to hold ourselves together is to be even more suspicious of strangers or people who are in any way different. But part of the long term answer is just being committed to the community we live in – being willing to volunteer where we can for sharing the burdens, or just being a welcoming presence for the stranger.
Nothing really replaces a good neighbour – somebody who doesn't just share the space we happen to live in but someone who's willing as well to share the hopes and joys and problems. but loving where we live isn't about restricting our love to the people next door. It's more about learning from our experience of loving the people next door that we can relate to people further away as well, because we've learned that other people aren't necessarily a problem but a gift. And we learn that best by trying to make ourselves a gift to them.
As a Christian, I look to the Bible for support for this idea. When Jesus talks about neighbours, what he stresses is the fact that you have to start by knowing, loving and looking after the person who's just there under your nose, never mind whether they're the kind of person you'd want to go on holiday with! And I think that if we get that straight, a great deal could change in our society, and we might begin to see what trust could achieve and why trust matters so much for each one of us, for all our communities and for our nation.
© Rowan Williams 2009