Thursday, 23 September 2021

Whatever our belief, we must try to listen

RECENT letters in the Henley Standard commenting on the language and dogmatic beliefs of some of the contributors to the Thought for Week column have asked if it is not time for a humanist view of the world. I think the correspondents are right.

However, the reason this particular column is nearly always written from a Christian viewpoint is because the contributors are part of a group called Churches Together in Henley.

You will see the church notices on this page are brought to you by Churches Together, although the writers of Thought for the Week come from the congregations in the districts of the readership of this newspaper.

The exception is the annual contribution from Rabbi Jonathon Romain of the Maidenhead Synagogue.

I believe it would be good to read other points of view from other faith groups and those who have no religious beliefs - after all how can we understand one another if we don’t talk to each other?

In a recent edition of the Henley Standard were the reports from the local Women’s Institutes.

I was pleased to read that nationally the WI wants to do something about the “plastic soup” that is polluting our planet, in particular the world’s oceans.

Apart from the non-biodegradable plastic that ends up in the middle of our oceans, causing dreadful suffering and ultimate death of many marine creatures including seabirds, they are also talking about micro-plastic fibres, such as the fibres that come from our synthetic clothing when washed.

These fibres end up in our water systems, then the sea and, unfortunately, can then enter the food chain. We cannot turn a blind eye to what our consumption is doing to this planet.

Quakers are reminded that we do not own the world and its riches are not ours to dispose of at will. We are encouraged to work to ensure that our increasing power over nature is used responsibly, with reverence for life.

So we can all do something to stop this mindless pollution. We can refuse to use plastic bags and badger supermarkets to provide paper bags for the loose fruit and vegetables.

We can refuse to buy overly packaged items, especially fresh food; no apple needs to be in a moulded polystyrene tray with a hard plastic top and why do we need shrink-wrapped cucumbers?

We can read the labels of garments before we buy them to see if they are made of natural or synthetic materials and consider the effect of buying that item might have on the environment.

We can lobby the Government to make washing machine manufacturers develop filters to go on their machines that will prevent micro-plastic fibres entering our water systems.

I am sure we can all think of smaller and larger actions to do to make the world a better place for all of nature.

Perhaps the first thing we should do is to start listening to one another, whatever we do or don’t believe.

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