Thinking about Christmas, I wanted to write about kindness, because it is one of those much-underrated qualities of which we sometimes don’t take much account, but we certainly miss it if it is not there.

In a world where differing views can be met with downright hostility, it is too easy to retreat and to not even try to listen to others. Yet, if we have no common language, the simplest of communications can be achieved with the help of a swift smile.

We live in a time of increasing polarisation and perhaps some of it comes from the data operating systems which power and feed the computers on which we are more and more dependent. But humans do not, and hopefully never will, work on “0 or 1” systems. There are always going to be gradations and multiple choices, but sometimes on social media we find ourselves in a situation where we are only presented with links and communications from others who think the same. We can lose so much by not listening.

Think of those wonderful partnerships, the people we all meet who will say wryly that they have absolutely nothing in common, but the thing that they do have, demonstratively, is that they love one another with devotion.

Acts of kindness can be jettisoned when people are busy and under pressure, such as not thinking about the neighbour who lives an isolated life, when there are a thousand and one things to do for and with the family. Communities like those in Chesham & Amersham reach out to people, to create welcoming places which are inclusive and respect every individual’s unique qualities.

And the one thing I would like to say is that we shouldn’t be afraid of being kind to the one person who can sometimes always be at the back of the queue when kindness and consideration are handed around – that is, to be kind to yourself, because that’s important too!

May I wish you all a very Happy Christmas full of joy and kindness.