You go away for a few days and look what happens to the place! ☺
It was interesting being in Greece on the day after the referendum. Friday was the ‘breaking news’ day of the result – and those numbers and statistics – and there was – and still is – the news relating to the political, financial, emotional, and social aspects of the result. I was re-minded of the sentiment an Australian political leader once said after an election to the effect ‘the people have spoken but we’re not exactly sure what they’ve said!’. There is a lot of working out to be done regarding what ‘leave’ actually means in reality and the details will go on for years. It is an interesting time. Unlike a parliamentary election where you are voting more for priorities within an agreed structure, a referen-dum is usually more structural where you have winners and losers.
We didn’t speak to many people about Brexit in Greece but the topic did come up. In general, the Greek folk we spoke with ‘high-fived’ Great Britain for ‘leaving the EU’ while the other Europeans were perplexed by the result.
Two things caught my attention in the days after the result. I was surprised by the generational comments – the ‘oldies had ruined things for the young’ sentiments – not because there isn’t truth necessarily in them – but because that is generally the way of things. I am sure that many men who were born in the 1890s didn’t expect to be going to The Great War where so many died in battles such as The Somme just as many women born in the 1890s didn’t expect to be unmarried. People born in the 1990s will face Brexit differently to those born today.
I was shocked – was I naïve to be shocked? – to hear about the racist comments made to ‘foreigners’ in the UK in the days after the referendum. Often the reply was ‘But I’m British / Eng-lish / Welsh / Scottish!’. People who are immigrants – my father was to Australia and I am here – might be ‘different’ but that doesn’t make us ‘the enemy’. I hadn’t detected the referendum being about ‘deporting’ or ‘getting rid of people’ (the immigration discussions I heard were in the con-text of controlling arrivals). I was also heartened to hear about many acts and declarations of friendship and support to the ‘foreigners’ as a response to the negative ones.
Whatever happens in the big picture (with the British parliament, the legalities, Article 50, and so on) and in the personal pictures – I’m not thinking of the personalities the media love to follow – of the people around us – and ourselves too (we all will have stories to tell of how this referen-dum will affect us) it seems to me – as I mentioned in my last bulletin – that we are going out into a future with many unknown consequences – and we can do that each for himself or herself – or we can do that looking for the best for everyone – often called the ‘common good’ – when we follow the Light of the world.
I’ve always thought it fascinating that this world is not our home but we are so much our nation-alities. We like our home and culture and language. They are us! We can’t be us without them but Christians are first and foremost disciples of Jesus which means following him. Jeremiah wrote to the exiles after Jerusalem was destroyed and told them that God had decreed that the exile would be 70 years. What to do about that? ‘But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your wel-fare.’ (Jeremiah 29:7 ESV) The idea was to serve in the situation one was in and be good neighbours and fine citizens so that everyone might be blessed. And let’s particularly pray for those who have responsibilities for the city’s welfare (1 Timothy 2:1,2) – or in this case the wel-fare of everyone in the UK – because they’re going to need them now more than ever!
What an interesting time in which to follow Jesus! — GS