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- Page 4

  • On Not Casting Stones...

    Blame.  Whose fault it is that we ended up in this situation...

    So easy to take some statistics and abuse them to lay the blame at this or that demographic, as if society could neatly be divided up along the lines of age or gender or birth-place or domicile or whatever.

    So easy for me to slip into blaming the interpretation of data or the media protrayal of people or groups as  blaming others.

    If blame we must - and I don't ever see blaming as helpful - then I will start by blaming myself (no this is not me in self-flagellation mode, bear with me)

    I will blame myself that I assumed other people would see or hear things as I heard or saw them

    I will blame myself that I did not sit down with someone and listen to their fears or opinions

    I will blame myself that now, when the die is cast, I kept silent when perhaps I should have spoken

     

    But I don't think blame helps, it shifts responsibility away from me and on to the 'other'

    Casting stones, as if that somehow sorted the problem, when all it does if inflict pain on the 'other' and demean our own humanity - one day we, too, will be the 'other' for someone else.

    Blaming myself then, both injures and dehumanises me, and that scares me.

     

    So not blame, not casting stones

     

    Instead, taking responsibility

     

    Accepting that I cannot change the past

    Learning from my mistakes and those of others

     

    Trying not to make assumptions

    Learning to speak out when I disagree (and not, as sometimes happens, eventually shouting at the wrong people for the wrong reasons)

    Modelling better the values I claim... even if that is personally risky (and for me this is really hard - I am not a risk taker)

    Being more open about the fact that in a disordered world, where I can't fix everything and my utopian nationless, moneyless egalitarian pipedream isn't going to happen, sometimes I have to choose which of the many important justice issues I can helpfully "champion" even if that upsets, disappoints or angers others.

    Trying to be "grown up" (whatever that means) whilst allowing others the space to be otherwise, when that is what is needed

     

    Perhaps these stones we each discover to be in our hands could be put to better use...

    To make 'stone soup'

    To build a cairn on our journey...

    To build a bridge - but not a wall

    To build a house where love can dwell...

     

    Ecclesiastes tells us, there is a time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones together

    I am not sure which kind of 'time' this is, but I can't help feeling that either of these options, to lay the stones and stop with the blaming, or to gather the stone together and build something good, would be more positive.  Maybe, just maybe, we can do both...

  • An Ecumenical Response...

    BUGB, Church of Scotland, Methodist Church and URC, Joint Public Issues Team, offer us this

    From which I have copied the following prayer...

     

    God of every nation and people,

    At this historic moment we pray for all who are affected by the decision that we have made.

    Whatever differences this has revealed within our own society,

    may they not eclipse what we have in common.

    Where the narratives of political debate have caused harm and division

    help us to reclaim the true values of our shared humanity.

    Where exaggeration and distortion have generated suspicion and fear

    may truth and honesty restore hope and goodness.

    We pray for all the nations of Europe

    that you will help us to find ways of living and working together

    to pursue the mercy and justice that you require.

                    We recommit ourselves – together – to the values of your eternal Kingdom

                    and pray that along with all people

                    we might help your world become more as you intended.

    AMEN

     

  • When the sun is not shining....

    The Jewish ghetto prayer:

    I believe in the sun, when the sun is not shining;

    I belive in love, though I do not feel it;

    I believe in God, though God be silent...

     

    Like the majority of people reading this, I woke up this morning to the news that result of the referendum on Britain's membership of the EU was to leave.  Unlike the Scottish Independnece Referendum, where I was genuinely torn and knew I'd be sad whatever the outcome, this time I knew fine well what I believed, and so I lay in bed struck dumb, beyond words, beyond tears, beyond comprehension.

    My social media feeds, like those of most people, consist mainly of those with whom I have broadly similar views, but not entirely.  I do count as friends people who voted to leave, and people who were as conflicted about this referendum as I was about the other one.  Even so, Twitter and Facebook are, for me, seas of tears, oceans of expletives... and still, small voices urging calm, love, reconciliation.

    I still bear the scars I gained trying to speak into the post Independence referendum result.  My (affirmed by many as) balanced and hopeful words somehow inflicted wounds I could not have anticipated on others I love.  All forgiven, long since, but I can't quite forget... The scars itch this morning as I sit here and, as I said on Twitter try "to be grown up and care for those God has called me to serve."

    Today I feel a blend of fear and sadness... Not anger, people voted as they believed to be best, based on the information they received and their own experience. 

    Perhaps, if I lived on a sink estate in a former industrial city in the middle of England or Wales and my family has been down-trodden for generations (and there are plenty for whom that is true) I would have felt differently than I do.

    Almost certainly if I was an EU national who had left behind family and friends to offer my gifts and skills in the UK, I would feel betrayed and rejected.

    If I was the age of my nieces and nephews, I would wonder what on earth the future held, and what education, employment and other opportunities have been lost.

    And for the 'bumps' some friends right across these islands are carrying, one confirmed only a few days ago, what future now for their unborn babies?

    I also fear the swift pointing-fingers and blaming... people of this age, or who were born in that place, or who voted the other way at the last general/whatever election...

     

    What I do know, is that however I feel, however we feel, we cannot turn back the clock.  We have to move forward from this place. And how we do that is hugely significant.

     

    I choose today to love my neighbour, as I love myself:

    Those whose voting choices I disagree with

    And those who voted as I did;

    Those who now fear for their future,

    Those who are angry and those struck-dumb.

     

    I choose today to have faith and hope:

    That goodness is stronger than evil,

    That most people are more good than bad,

    That nothing is beyond redemption.

     

    Today,

    With tears in my eyes,

    And clinging on by my finger tips,

    I reclaim the defiant convication,

    "That all will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well"

     

    However you voted (if vote you were able) and however you feel about the result, may God's healing love be yours this day.