Yesterday afternoon I walked along the seafront with my friend Ivan. It was a typical Lowestoft early Spring day – a touch of sunshine but a chilly wind.
In Aesop’s fable the wind and the sun argue about who’s the stronger. They have a contest: which of them can remove a man’s coat?
The wind blows. The man pulls the coat tightly round himself. The stronger he blows the firmer the man holds on.
The Sun shines gently, warmly. The man loosens and then removes his coat. The sun has won.
This lesson for children is a lesson for all: the way of warm gentleness is stronger than the way of cold force.
My experiences leading children and staff in school, and people of all ages in church, persuade me that the approach of cold force often fails; the way of gentle warmth brings more success.
Applying this to government, employers and our local communities as we come out of lockdown:
- Key workers: Many in our communities have worked tirelessly and selflessly. Bruised and weary they don’t need rules and ‘directives’. They may need a pay rise, but more importantly they need to be treated with a warm gentleness.
- Small Businesses: Many small businesses are seeking to re-establish themselves. The weight of further bureaucratic, burdensome requirements will not help as much as warm reassurance and ongoing support.
- Children: Many children, returning to school after a year of insecurity, uncertainty and change, need safety, routine and discipline. This must be in the context of a caring, warm school community.
- Churches: As churches return there are concerns for safety arrangements, service content, singing, technology… What’s more important is the warmth, gentleness and understanding of people for each other.
My inspiration and motivation continues to be the one who called us to ‘Love one another as I have loved you…’ This is the way of gentle warmth…whatever the cost.