At 3am last night the sound of snarling woke me up. These angry sounds were coming from our garden. Something was not right. My wife shone a torch around and the beam lit up the eyes of a fox. Foxes are one of England's largest predators. They are no threat to people but to our small cat 'Tigra', they are potentially lethal.
There was Tigra, just 5m from the fox, all her fur raised in alarm. She was standing her ground but hissing and snarling with fear. Tigra and the fox can't use words to sort out their clash. As people we can use words and yet I think sometimes we are just like Tigra and the fox. Sometimes we snarl in fear rather than talking to understand 'the other' and resolve our conflict.
Before I went back to sleep I read some of 'India's Unending Journey, finding balance in a time of change'. This is a thought-provoking book by journalist Mark Tully. I happened to read this passage, where Mark quotes Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, and it resonated somewhat with what I'd seen in our garden.
'Bad things happen when the pace of change exceeds our ability to change, when events move faster than our understanding. It is then that we feel the loss of control over our lives. Anxiety creates fear, fear leads to anger, anger breeds violence, and violence ... becomes a deadly reality. The single greatest antidote to violence is conversation, speaking our fears, listening to the fears of others, and in that sharing of vulnerabilities discovering the genesis of hope' 'The dignity of difference' by Jonathan Sacks.
When we do choose to have the courage and humility to talk with people who are 'other' we often find we have more in common than we thought. This is what my friend Chloe discovered in Burma/ Myanmar where Christians and Buddhists had been brought together through church and community transformation:
Film Clip 'Together we are strong'
The chief monk's words 'Division is weakness but together we are strong' strike a chord in my heart too. Who do I need to reach out to who is different to me, perhaps from a group that I am naturally afraid of? Who do you need to reach out to? Maybe you may have more in common than you think.
PS If you are worried about our cat, here's a photo of her this morning. She's unharmed, just resting after an eventful night!