I sent an email to the wrong person. But this wasn’t just any old email. This was an email with the subject line ‘Important dog pictures’, and it included a link to the top dog photographs of 2017 with absolutely no explanation.
It was supposed to go to my dad, but I typed the email address with one extra letter, so it went to a complete stranger instead.
Worst case scenario, of course, would have been the stranger replying with something along the lines of ‘sorry but I’m a cat person’. Thankfully, this was not the case. Instead, I got a very polite reply saying ‘I’m not sure you’ve sent that link to the right place! Cute dogs though [smiley emoji]’.
We sent a few emails back and forth – including me apologising profusely for sending unsolicited dog pictures, obviously – and briefly bonded over how we both use dog-related pictures as a means of communication and a sign of affection.
As dog pictures often do, this encounter got me thinking. We seldom talk to or bond with complete strangers. We live in a society where we rarely get to know our neighbours.
But we also live in a society which, this past weekend, hosted over 108,000 Great Get Together parties in memory of Jo Cox, whose maiden speech at Parliament included the now famous line of ‘we are far more united and have far more in common than that which divides us’.
This, too, in the week that saw a community rally together to bring relief to the victims of the Grenfell Towers fire.
So what is it that we have in common with one another? What is it in our nature that we share with the stranger?
At its simplest level, of course, it is that we are all made in the image of God. Regardless of faith, skin colour, gender, culture, actions, or background, we all carry the imago Dei. As Nick Baines says, such common ground ‘creates space for difference to be expressed and lived with, within agreed limits’.
At a time of terrorist attacks and political mud-slinging, it is good to be reminded of this truth – the inherent value and dignity of every human being. And it is from that common humanity that we can begin conversations with our fellow humans about our differences, and how we might work with them.
Even if they’re a cat person.
Nell is a writer at LICC.
Her first book, Musings of a Clergy Child: Growing into a faith of my own is published today.