THIS CONTENT WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON MY OLD SITE AND FORMS PART OF THIS SITE’S ARCHIVE
It is gone 10 pm on Monday, and I sit here contemplating another couple of days of Brexit mayhem. Journalists, commentators, bloggers (such as myself) and even politicians are playing the same “game” of will-she-won’t-she and what-will-she-do that they’ve been playing for approximately the past three years, ever since Theresa May became the Prime Minister.
And no I don’t entirely blame Theresa May, our society is poised on a knife edge; some like myself, crave the next revelation – in hopes we can predict the next step – more often than not we hedge out bets, not just us bloggers and social media aficionados, but even the journalists, politicians and commentators have spent the best part of three years making at times educated guesses, other times wild leaps of logic. All the while hedging their bets.
That’s why there’s probably a forests-worth of newspaper and internet articles (if printed) on “What could happen next”. Because it’s everyone hedging their bets.
It’s a game I’ve played, and probably will continue to until this whole fiasco is resolved, in whichever way it becomes resolved, then I, every other blogger, every journalist, every commentator, every politician will move on – and those who don’t will be fringe people – not in a bad sense. They’ll be academics lecturing and running seminars about Brexit at university, they’ll be the modern studies teachers teaching it to their high-school students; there will be (in about a decade, possibly less) historians writing academic articles about it. And then there will be the books, the people writing about it to make money – those with a key role (or even in some cases a mere footnote of a role). There will be others who write about it in retrospect, such as journalists and political theorists.
But there is one group of people who will have been, for all intent and purposes, been forgotten, the people, the public. Those who voted leave, those who voted remain. Those who couldn’t vote, because they died the day before, the day of, the day after the 2016 referendum, for them it may have been a small mercy.
Then there are those who died because of Brexit, the economic policy of austerity is over, but not so felt by the common man – as the pound dropped and it just didn’t stretch far enough to pay for heating; for food or for the NHS. I don’t know if we can blame this on the tumultuous past three years alone, on the governments miss-handling of brexit alone, perhaps we can’t. But I’m not sure it doesn’t deserve some blame.
I can’t say what will happen this coming week – deal; no deal; extension – who really knows? But what I can say is that whilst defending the vote of just over half of those who voted, which yes, we must respect within reason, that every actual person has been forgotten. Everyone who is not financially stable, who is less than £1000 from destitution. I believe these people have been forgotten.
Whether the value of the currency rises or falls, it matters not, if we can not in this day and age, in this “economically developed” country feed those without; clothes those who have no clothes; care for the sick, the disabled, the elderly. How can we claim to be more enlightened than previous generations? We should not celebrate the history of the workhouse, but at least it was an attempt to solve some of those issues – it wasn’t a good answer, by any stretch of the imagination. If we must rely on feelings – let’s us consider if we feel like we are even reaching the level of the Victorian workhouses in out care for those less able to care for themselves.
How can we claim to be more enlightened than those who advocated eugenics policies? One could say, without too much exaggeration, that based solely on the sheer numbers of those who have died waiting for universal credit, hospital treatment, community support, justice, and the review of their PIP assessments – we have created our own approach to eugenics.
We are not so merciful as to breed or aborting them out of existence; as down-syndrome has been in Iceland – no, we have instead killed them through sanctions; cost cutting and defunding for the NHS and local councils.
And yes, you may not have been personally directly responsible for any of that, but did you stand by and do nothing?
Did you protest in the streets? – I didn’t, no, I am writing from guilt here too.
Did we see the hungry and feed them; or the thirsty – did we quench that thirst?
Did we see the homeless or the sojourner – and give them shelter?
Did we giving clothing to those without?
Did we visit those in hospices; retirement homes; hospital and prison – and not just because they were related to us, but because we knew a kind word, a good helping hand and a friendly smile – might just be enough to save a life?
I’m not sure the way the system of our health, social care and general government remembers that standard – that lofty goal of loving your neighbours even as you love yourself. I think individualism may have, as always, in every society since the dawn of time, become the scourge of our civilisation. In the traditions I come from we don’t call it individualism – though I understand philosophically why it is called that, we look at its root, we call it selfishness.
And I look at myself, and I wonder, just how selfish can I be? I mean I am not rich, but do I need that second-hand computer game? Sure I really want to play it, but that’s £10 that I could give to the guy who begs less than 100 yards away from the game shop.
Or how about that £2.95 for a latte; £2.55 for those Hoisin duck wraps; £3 for that multi-pack of crisps that gets demolished in a day; or that £1.50 “sharing” bar of Cadbury’s chocolate – that’s £10 I could buy extra food for someone in need – in the supermarkets that £10 still goes a decent way, especially if you avoid branded stuff, which I tend to anyway.
This brings me back to the government – how you might ask? Well, how can I ridicule the government, complain about them not meeting what I expect of them, if I don’t do what I expect of me? I’ve always considered myself a fairly caring person – aside from my misspent youth, and even then, I was still the kind of guy who cared.
But how can I, if my tradition, calls me to be an ambassador, and an example, a light to others – how can I expected a government or even the wider society to follow my expectations if I don’t show them how? Moving back to the government, you’ve had too much introspection from me for one day.
The Institute for Government, estimated that the final cost to the public purse could be in excess of £2 billion. Since the referendum in 2016, Brexit has (probably not on its own) shaved an estimated total of £64.5billion from the UK economy. And our NHS was going to get £350million extra after Brexit?
That’s just one thought, I’ve seen it repeated online a few times – how much money has been wasted on Brexit, that could have properly funded schools, the NHS, the benefits system, pensions, council’s, care homes, hospices, youth projects, the arts, and so many many worthwhile projects?
Here is the scary thing – I’m not sure it would have been spent that way if the UK had voted to remain; and David Cameron was Prime Minister, George Osborne was Chancellor (for how long after the referendum, I’m not sure) – I wonder if the illegal campaigning expenditure of VoteLeave etc would have resulted in prosecutions; or whether we’d have let them lick their wounds and gone quietly into that good night.
I don’t for one moment, however, believe that the NHS, Education, Council’s, Prisons, Benefits would have seen any really significant cash injection. I don’t think the evidence to support that they would have done is there. But what about after?
Whatever the result – I don’t believe the current government in its entirety will seek to protect the people it is sworn to protect, from crippling financial hardship; from the NHS cracking apart at the seams; from the Education systems falling down – I can’t see any humility in JRM; Boris Johnson; Michael Gove that would leave me to believe they give one iota for the common man.
I can just about see that in a glimmer, perhaps a glitch, in the MayBots programming. I can just about see it in Amber Rudd. But I just can’t see it in its entirety within that government.
After Brexit, whether we go down the path of no-deal; deal; or revocation – I’m not sure the ruling party actually care enough, to save lives that in some respects their policies have destroyed, and in some cases killed. After Brexit I am convinced that they won’t care enough, overall, to see you as anything more than a potential voter. I’m not sure they care – but maybe that’s because they weren’t shown how to care?
Perhaps because they weren’t raised in that village, where children are raised by everyone in the village. Perhaps they don’t know how to behave because the tradition of myself, that includes me, have not modelled the right way to behave.
I am a student, in some respects, of the theology of a man called John Wesley, with his brother Charles, they founded a Church called the Methodists. I understand Methodist theology, whilst not being one myself, I have a sense of kin-ship with it. This is why I have to ask myself if the Church has not modelled the behaviour we should have done?
Margaret Thatcher was a Methodist, her father one of its Ministers. John and Charles Wesley were Anglican Ministers until they died – devoted passionately to care for the poor, the imprisoned etc.
May is an Anglican. I don’t know how either May or Thatcher’s supposed theologies fits their politics. But not Wesleyanism, not Anglican-catholicism. Which makes me question, is the Church being the light she claims to be; or is she modelling bad and evil approaches to loving the world?
I know we have our bad apples. I’m an evangelical – we have more than most – but this is not the theology of Wesley, this is not the theology of Jesus. And that’s why I have to ask, has the Church screwed up so badly that two or more Prime Minister’s, claim Jesus as Lord and Saviour, whilst desecrating the things he cared for – the people?
This ‘thing’ I have no answer for; but I do have a challenge for my fellow Christians – my fellow theologians; pastors; Christian bloggers et al: We need to show the world the people Jesus cared for – to him there was no deserving poor – all where in need of his salvation – we need to be better lights, we need to be better witnesses, we need to be better ambassadors. And this is not a call to policy making; oh no, heaven forbid; this is not about “Christian issues”.
This calling-out is about challenging where government policies harms the disenfranchised, the disempowered. This is not a call to rally around particular issue politics – though I can see how that could be taken there. No – Jesus shunned the power of this world, he did not crave it for himself. He came to empower, thorough his blood; to heal by his love – and that is what I’m trying to communicate. Not a Political mumbo-jumbo of “I’m so pro-life, I hate killers of unborn-babies; but I own a gun so I can shoot the immigrants” – that is the politics of people seeking power – when Jesus commanded us not to take up arms or power, but to lay ourselves down, to sacrifice ourselves, to hand over our time, our energy and our love, so that we might be salt-and-light to a screwed-up world. This was the theology of peaceful resistance, this was the theology of social care. The Church used to run hospitals, care homes, children’s homes (we still do, but not so much in the UK, and I’m not advocating we should go back to burdening that responsibility in totality). I ask friends far too much, has the Church abdicated it’s responsibility by handing over its ministry of care to the state?
Has what we the people of Jesus did for free become what private companies can charge for?
Have we become so wedded to the ways of the world that we can’t be the light we are called to be?