I had a very enjoyable career in the field of planning. By far the most satisfying aspect of writing planning policy is discussing what you are doing with the interested general public. As I’ve said in previous blogs, when someone shows sufficient interest in your work, and they are driven to come and talk to you about it, there is little more satisfying than talking about it. In planning, people were often driven by objection to something – a housing proposal near them, a development that they felt was detrimental to their area, something already happening that they didn’t like. Discussion would often lead to understanding, even if it didn’t resolve objection.
Objection without understanding is objectionable in itself. If someone can’t be bothered to find out the reasons behind an action, but just object, this is lazy and ignorant. I find petitions tend to be the most obvious example of this. Many petitions are blindly signed without any feeling toward the issue being petitioned about. Even worse than this, however, is complaining that your objection wasn’t listened to; what the objector usually means is that they didn’t get their own way. Just because a person objects, doesn’t mean the recipient will change their view. How many times have I faced angry people who think that they weren’t listened to just because things weren’t changed to reflect their view?
I raise this because the recent vote by the Church of England demonstrates a similar principle, and no-one seems to have noticed. To me, the Church’s decision not to have women bishops is insanity. How a significant organisation that literally preaches equality, compassion, opportunity and understanding can deliberately restrict the progression of a particular sex is totally beyond me. How it can go on batting this issue backwards and forwards decade after decade in clear opposition of most people in this country is mind-blowing. How it can have such a ridiculous voting system which allows a minority to maintain an untenable status quo is quite astonishing. But it does.
The furore that followed the vote is understandable. But, they have voted; those eligible to vote have cast it. The rules of the vote have been followed, the decision has been made. This was a vote carried out within the rules set out. A position has been reached which cannot be questioned – the resolution has to be the official position of the Church. The outgoing Archbishop of Canterbury was very outspoken, clearly in favour of the ordination of women, and pressed the Church to ‘resolve the issue once and for all’. It seems to have escaped even him that they have just resolved it. He is effectively moaning because he didn’t get his way.
The same is true of all of those speaking out against the decision in favour of women bishops. Of course the outcome is stupid; of course the outcome is flying in the face of where we are in this 21st century; of course they should have made another decision. But for now, they have resolved it. The issue won’t go away; they will vote again in time; but really, stop going on about it just because you didn’t get your own way. There is a process, you know.