Monday, 4 July 2016

Guns, pins, grace, and thanks

In recent weeks some evil has shown its face in Britain. I believe we should be humble and wise in our response. 

Often the media comments about America's gun culture and the resulting mass murders, but what if Jo Cox's killer had an automatic weapon? Many could so easily have been killed, instead of one brave man who was injured in her defence. Some have seen the Brexit vote and rhetoric leading up to it as permission to be abusive to those different from themselves. They are totally mistaken.

At the heart of Christian teaching is a generosity of spirit to others, and to ourselves. Jesus reinforced the command that we should love others, as we love ourselves. He focused it even more, by telling us we should love as he loves us.

I was taken by the idea of wearing a 'place of safety pin' on my lapel, as a sign that I enjoy the company of others regardless of their circumstances. As an area welcoming many holiday makers, our hospitality really counts. You and I are unlikely to play a significant part in the evolution of national politics (unless there's a snap election), but we can and should make a difference locally.

Humility, wisdom, and grace will help us see others' points of view. The in or out choice threw up odd results, so Weymouth and Portland voted out by a two thirds majority, whereas Dorchester voted evenly. It's staggering that nobody had bothered (apart from the Bank of England) to plan for a Brexit, that every single promise made was disowned in days, and that such momentous change should be triggered by just a 2% majority.

We need grace to acknowledge important truths on both sides of the question. When challenged about his allegiance to God or the emperor, Jesus famously took a coin and pointed out that it had two faces. He had responsibilities to both. We must maintain warm relationships with our fellow Europeans, and we must do all we can to empower the rising generation in Britain. After all the vote was primarily about the world they will inherit, and the vast majority of young people wanted to remain part of the EU. Many of them feel betrayed by older generations.

And lastly, and perhaps most importantly we should remember the huge cost 100 years ago in wasted young lives at the Somme and elsewhere. Thousands died fighting for freedom, and we must honour their memory. May we give thanks for having choice, for peace in Europe, for being rich in so many ways ~ we must never take these for granted.