Relationships are hard! You meet, you fight, you make up, you fight again, after several centuries of that you have a referendum and make a commitment to ever closer union. But forty years is a long time for any marriage. ‘You’re not the Europe I first committed to’, ‘you used to be much slimmer and more fun’, ‘I can put up with your mess but not on my side of the channel!’, ‘you don’t listen to me any more!’. To mis-quote Albert Einstein ‘Britain entered Europe hoping it wouldn’t change, Europe welcomed Britain hoping it would. Inevitably both were disappointed.’
The trouble is community (and love) is about self-giving, but people need to feel safe to give willingly. When we feel anxious we focus on self-protection not self-giving: ‘if I’m not sure you’ll be there for me tomorrow it’s hard for me to be there for you today’. We live in anxious times and both the ‘in’ and ‘out’ groups are using the language of self-protection – ‘take back control’ or ‘a better deal for Britain’. But decisions made from fear always diminish us. Love is that miraculous hopefulness which reaches out despite the fear, which recognises a shared humanity in our neighbours, and even our enemies, and which is constantly tinkering with the armour of self-protection to see how it might be loosened or even abandoned. As we wonder which way to vote in May, can we get past all the noise about getting the best deal and wonder what will help humanity flourish, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health?
Revd. Ian Bussell
Director of Ordinands and Curate Training