Brexit, Disappointment, hope, Politica

The Morning after…

This morning I’m trying to work out what I feel this morning is a strange feeling.

It is a step into the unknown, it is a time of change.
Some might feel worried, others jubilant, possible others a mixture of the two.
Actually at the moment, I’m slightly stunned by the result…
Reminded a little of ’92 when my generation realised the power of the vote to change things, when most of us who were too young to remember any other government, saw the Tories out of office… that felt like a new era of hope, but this feels very different.
Today I just feel a bit sombre.
As I reflect back on the campaign, it was one filled with scaremongering from both sides, misrepresenting other peoples’ points of view, some shameful scapegoating and I think it has shown just how polarised our society is, particularly it has made us more aware of how disenfranchised many people feel in our society. (At least whatever your political views I think people have been reminded that voting actually really matters, and for many this was the first time many people who feel very disenfranchised engaged in the democratic process).
I think the question is not now whether we leave or remain, -after all the vote has happened- but how best we can build/rebuild this nation to be better than it is now… The debate now is how does this look? How do we do we do it?
It may meaning enter into conversations with people whose view point we struggle with and finding common ground with ‘the other’?
To me the big two questions we face as Christians is how can we see the most disenfranchised, normally seen as labour voters who clearly feel that no one speaks for them be heard and seek to bless, love and proclaim authentic hope (not just warm sloppy platitudes) and build real relationship s in these communities (often when the Church seems to too often struggle).
Alongside the question, how can we be people who oppose the horrific scapegoating of the refugees, asylum seeker and migrants. How we can genuinely see community cohesion rather than trying to pretend that there aren’t problems here? How can we be real about struggles without resulting to knee jerk reactions and scapegoating of minorities.
How do we move forward with a vote that needs to be respected, but half the population wished hadn’t happened.
As Christians, the gospel of Christ is  a bigger and greater story of hope, of love, of unity and embracing rather than rejection, a message so transformational that has the power to silence the deeply disturbing voice of the right and far right with a vision of humanity coming together in loving community seeking the best for our neighbours? This big story is the Kingdom of God, or the Kingdom of heaven as it is sometimes called. The Lord’s Prayer urges us to seek Gods Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven, the call that is in no way altered by results of referendum, in fact let this result and living in changing times be the spur to go deeper to “do justice, love mercy and walk humbly before our God”.
And as we think of this challenge within the UK, we realise this is a challenge for us to work out what it means afresh to be loving neighbours advocating justice, compassion and hope to not just those within Europe but actually want it means afresh to be a global citizen.
As we talk about now about trade, I hope too that we also talk about trade ethics, do we continue to hold fast to the rights for workers that was advanced and influenced by the EU for workers in the UK? But do we ask the more thorny issue of universal workers rights for everyone we trade we, as surely a Indian or Chinese life is worth as much as that of a European, as I believe there is only one race, the human race, all made in the image of God. As we try to put the parable of the Good Samaritan into practice as we seek to be good world neighbours acting with compassion for the weak and fighting for justice against the powerful and exploitative.
You might read this and think, I can do anything to support this as I’m not a politician or a leader in big business… Yet we fall for the lie that as people we can’t make a difference, we believe that we can only play it small.
In the West Wing President Bartlett quotes Margaret Mead saying “never doubt that a small group of dedicated people can change the world, for, in truth it is all that ever have”, and although this is undoubtedly true, we have a greater truth of “he (Christ) that is within us is greater than he that is in the world”… “The same Holy Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead (is active in you and your life)”…  The power of the global Church, filled with the Spirit of God, has option to stop fighting amongst itself and look out and transform the world for the glory of Christ and the salvation and good of its inhabitants.
Yesterday at our third outing of school pastors Jackie shared the call to “be bold” in speaking of Christ (she had led a number of people to Christ recently) but believe her words are larger than just the context of evangelism but rather true for the mission of God in his world…
At times of transition we need to be Christians that step up to the plate and echo the words of Isaiah “here I am send me”.
Irrespective of how we voted, the challenge to build a better world for Christ’s glory and for the sake of our children and grandchildren remains, for some the mountain may feel it has got higher, yet lets not the size of the task daunt us, let us remember the size of the God we serve and his saving and equipping power.
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Brexit, Immigration, Politica

More EU thoughts… immigration…

I wanted to blog on immigration as it seems like this is a subject no one wants to talk about properly and if you read that odious rag the daily mail or the Tory/UKIP voices from the leave campaign I fear verges on the xenophobia, where everything wrong in the world is blamed unfairly on migrants.

One of the phrases we sometimes hear is “foreigners nicking our jobs”, but let us unpack this phrase a little…

Firstly, who are foreigners? Most of us if we traced our history back far enough probably has some non-Anglo Saxon in us, we are a nation that has always had immigration, and sadly migrants have often been scapegoated of all societies ills!

Also the idea of “our” jobs is an interesting concept, we live in a multicultural society in a globalised world, and as such we will meet different people from different nations in the jobs pool, the idea that where we were (or weren’t) born should give us any extra advantage (or disadvantage) is actually pretty offensive, the best person should get the job by nature of being the person those conducting the interview thought was the best candidate.

Yet it is worth pointing out that migration is only one small factor in the whole employment debate… Here is a few more…

In many areas jobs haven’t been taken by migrants rather they have been shipped out overseas to avoid paying proper wages to their workers, in what is one of the great scandals of our generation when we think of the amount of slave and sweat shop labour exists in this world. Countries where workers have rights, unions and legislation to protect them loose out on employment possibilities due to this despicable practice, which disproportionally effects people on unskilled and semi skilled work.

Criminalisation occurs where many migrants are exploited through human trafficking and illegal working hours with cash in hand payments, which is again is not migrants “nicking” jobs but rather the culture of exploitation both legal and illegal bring far to pervasive In our society which hurts not just those caught up in these despicable trades but the poorest in our society.

In the 80s many of our employment industries such as coal mining, steel works and shipyards decimated the employment prospects of many areas, especial rural areas in the north of England, Scotland and Wales.

As the 80s progressed the technological revolution made many jobs obsolete and continues to do so, as the age of 3D printers dawns how is this going to effect our manufacturing and industry?

The truth is irrespective of immigration employment in many areas been in crisis in many communities for decades.

Many of those caught in this cycles of unemployment, poverty and depravation feel marginalised and disenfranchised, one estate I worked in had really high proportion of young people classed as Neets (Not in Education, Employment or Training) were described as having ‘poverty of aspiration’ which many of us felt it was also matched by ‘poverty of opportunity’, so tragically, but not unexpectedly there are vast numbers of people who never reach their potential and feel ‘the system failed them’.

This is a national problem that is acute in places both with high immigration as well as areas where immigration is low. To me the real question how can we engage with disenfranchised communities in regeneration and transformation?

To people feeling excluded it is easy for narratives of jealousy and injustice to rise up where migrants get scapegoated.

Many areas of high immigration often already placed in deprived communities with existing tensions, sometimes the work which again get exploited by unscrupulous and irresponsible right wing political narrative.

The solution to employment is not blaming immigration, but talking about global ethics and local community regeneration and transformation.

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