Wednesday, January 16, 2008

State of the City

This evening will see Bristol’s first ‘state of the city’ debate. Every part of the Council’s discussion can be followed online via webcast. It’s a new experience for Bristol, and one to which all Bristolians have been invited to contribute.

Tonight’s debate owes much to the American President’s ‘State of the Union Address’. But there is an important difference in that Bristol has a debate, including many voices, not all of whom agree, whereas the United States has an address, given by one man, presenting one point of view.

The Bible is full of cities. The first city it records was founded by Cain, who was more famous for being the first murderer in the Bible. But the last city it mentions is the New Jerusalem, the city of God. This is the place where everything is good and all has been put right, all hopes are fulfilled and pain and sorrow are no more.

We, of course, live between those two cities. There is still death and crime in our city, there are ways in which we must all change and be changed if we are to be a city that fulfils its potential. But there is also hope and life to be found in Bristol, which is to be celebrated and encouraged.

Standing between these two polarities, it is good that Bristol’s state of the city is a debate rather than an address. It is together, from our different points of view, that we can move beyond our preconceived ideas and blind spots and see where we need to change and where we ought to celebrate.


Given as Thought for the Day on BBC Radio Bristol. 15.1.8.

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