I’ve been lost for words at times since Friday morning, and those who know me well will know that is possibly the best thing that has come out of the referendum if you were a remain voter.
I am shocked by the result, deeply saddened that neither the remain or leave campaign seem to have had a plan for what they would do in the event of a narrow leave vote, upset by the finger pointing and accusations made towards individuals who voted as their heads and hearts led them, and utterly appalled by the racist attacks and abuse that have been reported.
I’m white, British, middle-class, middle-aged and I’m not a racist. Anyone who lives in this country is welcome to live near me, to work with me, to build community with me. I don’t care which football team, which religion or which political party you support. But discriminating against someone based on their background, religion, sexuality or skin colour is wrong- so how do I build community with those who disagree with me about that? If I’m supposed to be tolerant and respectful of others, does that mean I have to tolerate and respect the abuse of people simply because they have a different native language?
The first thing to do is recognise that racial abuse is happening, and its happening a lot more since the referendum than before. That is just reality. This is not about refugees being welcome or not, this is people who’ve lived in the UK for years, who’re citizens and residents, holidaymakers and tourists. People living in their home towns are experiencing racial abuse that they weren’t experiencing last week, last month or last year.
The second thing I’m doing is reassuring everyone I know that I welcome them- that they are safe with me. I’m not pretending to be Superman, but I’m not claiming to be from a race of Supermen (or Ubermensch, if we’re still allowed to use foreign words after last week). Racism, when it happens, is not something I support, approve of or agree with- it is not done in my name.
I’m still trying to work out what step 3 is, and would be grateful of advice. In trying to work it out I’m mulling over whether reconciliation is actually the way forwards, or whether we need to go into this- do we need a bandage or surgery at this point?
A friend of mine blogged this today on shinyheadedprophet here– its really worth reading. In the meantime I hope and pray that you don’t experience any abuse, and that you’re able to reduce the levels of fear and anger in those around you.
I have not blogged for a while … and not really said much publicly about Thursdays elections.
It seems argument after argument is still coming on social media. I, along with many others, was indirectly told to stop posting stuff in a generic ‘stop whinging’ type post and grow up … only to then receive in my news feed from the same ‘stop whinging’ people post after post of silly stuff like ‘if England lose the match on Monday night can we play again if we don’t like the result’.
So remainers are not allowed to whinge, but outers can post ridiculing posts. Why draw attention to this … ?
Someone recently, well on the actual morning of the vote result, reminded me that I am a priest and that I needed to be about reconciliation. I also had scripture quoted at me but no response when I gave counter scripture showing ‘anger’ was ok, particularly righteous anger.
I do believe the country needs reconciliation … and I do believe as a priest I should help that in my community … but at the moment I can not.
At the moment I am still angry …. not at those who voted out because we are in a democracy and we all have a right to opinion and are free to vote as we choose.
I am angry over how people are being treated.
On Friday I spoke to three dear friends who were crying over the vote. Crying because this vote has dramatically changed their lives.
I am angry because I know of teachers who have had to comfort children in their classes who have heard that they are no longer welcome here in the UK.
I am angry over how the vote has been an excuse to gang up on individuals who are trying to cause change for the better.
I am angry over the countless stories of violence towards people in this country since the vote outlined here.
I am angry because decent humans who felt this was their home last week now feel homeless, unwanted and scared.
I am angry … and that is ok for the time being!
Please stop telling me to be involved in reconciliation … that will come … but first …something more needs to happen.
Before reconciliation these things, the divisions we have tried to ignore, our opinions …. everything we value about our lives and how we live together as decent human beings needs to be talked about. Things need to be expressed and heard.
I could ramble but my now retired Suffragen Bishop (when I was in Rochester Diocese) , Bishop Brian, writes so much better here …. a great article from an amazing man and one that we should read and take to heart of we really want to move forward.