Thought for the day 25th April 2020
Walking in my Shoes
During this period of enforced lock-down we have all tackled lists of projects that we had never got around to, or even thought of!
At the prompting of Joyce and my children I am part way through writing the story of my journey through life.
One episode that I have brought back to mind is of being invited to participate in a Duke of Edinburgh Study Conference in the 1970’s. These conferences grouped people from three different occupations (Civil Servants,, Trade Unionists and Business leaders) and sent them to different parts of the UK to study local social and economic issues. I well remember the Plenary gathering in Birmingham, chaired by the then CEO of Chloride Group, Sir Michael Edwards, who was about to take on the running of British Leyland (but which had not been announced). In the round of self-introductions one guy stood up introduced himself by name, occupation, which was Trade Union convener at British Leyland, Longbridge., and blithely said ‘for those that don’t know – that’s the plant where the workers sign in using the Visitors Book’. I can still see Sir Michael’s stony-faced stare!
My particular Group was dispatched to East Anglia, where we studied issues of economic stress caused by the decline of the Ports and the socio-economic issues of low-paid work in the agricultural industries. At each visit individuals were tasked with looking at the issues of the day from a particular point of view. We were there for 2 weeks and the amazing thing was to witness the change in attitudes as the course went on. By the end of the tour it was difficult to distinguish who was from which background.
That experience has stayed with me and I often wonder how our opinions would alter if we paused and deliberately thought about ‘how the world would look if we were in someone else’s shoes.’ It can be a sobering experience, and is particularly prescient in the current crisis when, apart from the obvious sacrifices being made by front-line workers, people in all walks of life have to confront unique challenges.
Why don’t you listen to Gladys Knight and the pips sing the song?