Man on the street


Politicians like to use phrases like 'the man on the street', or 'on the doorsteps of my streets', to bolster and support what they are saying, implying that their opinion is true because the average person supports it.

Real 'man on the street interviews' can be very powerful, such as when Alan Lomax of the American Folk Archive, asked reporters to go out and collect 'man on the street interviews' the day after Pear Harbor was attacked. Hundreds of interviews were transcribed and recorded in audio format, one lot titled 'Dear Mr President'.

But when I hear politicians share opinions with this idiom, I wonder if it's mostly self referencing. And I wonder how often we succumb to such self referencing in the church.

It's so easy to stay in our church circles, and talk and listen to people who re-inforce what we arleady know, and to think, that our small circles are 'man on the street' global statements. What we prefer, and experience, however valid becomes something we overlay on everyone, and make universal statments about the church. We succumb to 'man on the street' logic as we make pronoucements of what church should do and be.

It's much harder to look to and listen to people outside our circles, to find dialogue partners who see things differently to us, to look at our context in the context of others, and the context of history.