So the United Kingdom will go to the polls on 23rd June about whether to remain in or leave the European Union and already the sides are forming, the arguments are being heard, and the call to decision making (already billed as the biggest decision ‘in our lifetimes’) has begun. The media will love it and I’ve already seen online comments saying ‘Enough already!’ (let’s have the vote tomorrow!). I think there is certainly a sense of occasion coming.
What interests me over the months – as has been evident in the debate and disagreements to this point – is how people make their decisions. I expect to hear both sides claim that the economy, trade, border control, laws, and even sovereignty are strengthened if we remain or if we leave. This will lead to discussions about definitions and about relationships with neighbours and even how practical nation states are in the global world of the internet. Does one follow one’s ‘heart’ or one’s ‘head’ – especially when each is looking in different directions? To whom does one listen? Experts? Politicians? Celebrities? And what will the future look like? The referendum is decided by whichever side gets more than half of the votes cast – and yes, here I go about compulsory voting again – so what happens if a significant portion of the population doesn’t vote? What happens if different parts of the United Kingdom vote differently? Ah, so much fun thinking questions! What are the answers? Who knows?!
Decision making brings to a specific moment one’s attitudes, values, current circumstances, hopes and fears. That is rather grandiose when deciding whether to have chicken or fish for dinner but in essence we decide what works best for … and that’s the issue, I think. If I make decisions solely on what’s best for me, Charlotte can rightly, at times, call me selfish. If I make decisions solely on the basis of Charlotte then perhaps some of those decisions mightn’t be good or healthy for me. But if I recognise my relationships – who am I in relationships – then if I make decisions on the basis of my marriage I might have sought the best decisions overall. Now add Jesus into the mix and he doesn’t take away our intelligence or our selfishness or our responsibilities but his relationship with us orients to see things from his perspective and yes, that will influence our decision making. But even here when one reads the Bible one might understand God’s will in a specific situation to be different and thus congregational members can and do vote differently on things.
Living in a constitutional monarchy parliamentary system means that Romans 13 speaks to us not just as citizens but as the ‘governing authorities’, ‘rulers’, and the ones who ‘bear the sword’ for our system of government is a representative democracy in which we have the vote. The US presidential elections reveal another democratic system and process. But it all means that if we have the vote, we do have a responsibility not just to be citizens but also to be rulers too – hopefully ‘good’ citizens and ‘wise’ rulers. How shall I vote? That’s a good question. I suggest that the answer begins by ascertaining the issues at hand and then asking ‘what works best for …?’ and here seeking the answer to ‘who is my neighbour?’. — GS