Thought For The Day #1425 November 2013
Broadcast 25th of November 2013 on BBC Radio Bristol
How often do you think about door handles? Not much I imagine. Now how often do you use a door handle? Multiple times a day no doubt. Okay, so let’s say you go to open your front door to leave for work and the handle falls off in your hand. I’m pretty sure many of your thoughts will be about the door handle then.
What I’m saying is that it’s hard to notice things that just work. And that’s a bit ironic, because when they’re most excelling at their job and worthy of appreciation they’re furthest from our mind. Basically, you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.
I was reminded of this yesterday on hearing the news about the International agreement reached on Iran’s nuclear enrichment programme. The politics around it have reminded me of the build up to the Iraq war. So it’s quite a relief that diplomacy has won this time. This is the way that differences should be resolved. ‘Talking things through’ is the ‘door handle’ of politics. How often do we actually stop to appreciate how well it works?
Steven Pinker, the renowned cognitive scientist, might be one of those. He’s recently written a book called The Better Angels Of Our Nature that explores the history of violence. His surprising conclusion is that it’s never been safer to be alive. Amongst the daily despair of mainstream news Pinker’s voice is a lone one. But one we need more of. So thank God for John Kerry, William Hague and door handles! Now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d hear myself saying.