I have some sympathy with Kenton Archer. The latest twist in the Archer’s saga revealed last night was after it had been announced that the Ambridge Summer Fete, a village tradition for many years, may well not take place, and the fete committee having made its decision when it found out the normal venue, the Village Green, would not be available. Kenton then had the bright idea that he could use the grounds of the Bull, the pub he and his wife Jolene owns, instead. While there was an altruistic reason for making the offer, he saw it as an opportunity to bring in much needed revenue for the pub. Except, unbeknown to him, his sister, the owner of nearby Loxley Hall, had offered use of the Hall for the fete and the committee had agreed. As far as Kenton was concerned, this was yet another example of the family ganging up in order to do him down.
Looking back over my life, I can reflect on a countless number of misunderstandings that I have witnessed that might have been avoided, in all sorts of situations. Sometimes there was an element where the one taking umbrage had good reason to be disgruntled, for example if rightly discerning being the recipient of unkindness. Often what had been taken exception to could have been done more agreeably if more thought and sensitivity had been exercised. But that is life, and don’t we know it! I got to think of the “Make me a channel of your peace” prayer, attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, with its refrain: “Oh, Master grant that I may never seek, So much to be consoled as to console, To be understood as to understand, To be loved as to love with all my soul”, and what might be a better approach. Perhaps, one of the hardest things to learn, yet ultimately one of the most rewarding, is to forgive and not hold grudges.
An example of where I felt I had been misunderstood is regarding certain postings on this blog. While most of the feedback has been positive, a few have taken issue with what I wrote. Usually (in my view) it was because the person taking offence had misunderstood what I had written in the first place and where (so I thought) I had exercised due diligence in choosing my words. Sometimes, it is because me and my detractor simply see things differently, have different interests, experiences, priorities etc., and more often than not that compounds the situation. What then can happen, and all too often it does, is that the two parties then fall out and harmful rifts are created that might have been avoided – if only…
As regular readers will know, I often blog about politics and religion (the two subjects, some feel, should be avoided to prevent such things occurring). Since entering into this arena, often dealing with controversial subjects, I have seen much evidence of this. I happened also yesterday to listen to one of my favorite preachers, David Pawson, talk about Israel, reflecting on recent events and the reaction of the church, among other things. This is one of many controversial subjects that I take a keen interest in. Listening to Pawson, it seemed that despite him being one of our foremost Bible teachers, he did not understand why some Christians opposed Israel and the teaching of Zionism, let alone empathizing with them. Falling out among different sections of the church on all sorts of subjects is these days a regular occurrence, and a lot of it has to with misunderstanding, often on both sides, and this too got me thinking.
Going back to where I began – Kenton Archer, I would have liked to have taken him to one side and given him some words of advice, although I am at an advantage knowing some of the bigger picture, but then I suspect Kenton’s mindset is such, he deliberately chooses to misunderstand. It would not have taken much to trigger the reaction we witnessed. But I believe there is a case of trying to clear up misunderstandings whenever we can and trying to understand better, especially the views of those who see things differently, yet still say what is true and do what is right. As Jesus said: “blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.”