Saturday, 04 December 2021

Less rhetoric and no recrimination

IT’S astonishing. Back in 1940, when Britain was in grave danger, the Cabinet was talking about

IT’S astonishing. Back in 1940, when Britain was in grave danger, the Cabinet was talking about the rebuilding of Europe post-war.

Fast forward 76 years. Our politicians, on either side, have been thinking and plotting about the EU referendum for years.

There were two possible outcomes and only two. Yet our leaders give the strong impression of having barely considered one possibility, the one for which a small but clear majority actually voted.

They seem more concerned, in the aftermath, with lobbying for position in their particular parties than helping us understand where we go from here.

While they sort themselves out, what do WE do? Keep calm and carry on is always good advice, except perhaps where life and limb are threatened, but beyond that we can endeavour in our own circle to repair some of the damage and division caused by the campaign.

Whether we feel gratified or betrayed by last week’s result, it is time for us all to be constructive.

Perhaps the slanders about racism and fascism can be rebutted by the way we as individuals deal with those whose origins lie outside these islands.

Those who are anxious about their place and their work in the UK after the “out” vote need our sympathy, encouragement and kindness.

Most of us have benefited greatly and will benefit still from their contribution to our society.

There undoubtedly are racists in the UK but the huge, overwhelming majority are kind and decent people.

Perhaps young and old need to try to understand each other, as those with an axe to grind try to make the most of our (real) differences. I am 59 with four children. My only concern in voting was about the kind of world my kids will face and I’m not alone in that.

This outcome wasn’t just about grumpy, xenophobic pensioners hankering after the good old days.

Some imaginative sympathy across generations can only be good. Talk to the old man/woman! Listen to the young!

Perhaps we all need to rein in expressions of distress, anger, bitterness, resentment and any sense of betrayal. Study the comments on the website of any national newspaper to see why.

We complain of air pollution in Henley but the campaign and its aftermath so far have massively polluted the moral and emotional atmosphere in our nation and beyond.

Thoughtful, gracious speaking and constructive action, especially of the bridge-building kind, even at home, are what we need now.

Seven hundreds years before Jesus, the prophet Micah gave us the recipe for handling a time of crisis:

He has told you, O man, what is good;  and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness,   and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)

If you are an atheist you may want to snip the last three words but even without them it’s not a bad plan.

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