A Short Pause

It has been a demanding fortnight. Just as we were going on retreat, I was alerted to an attack on our monastery web sites. I dealt with it as best I could but, by the time we had arrived at our retreat destination, hackers had exploited a vulnerability and our sites were down. It has taken a lot of time and a fair bit of money to put things right, but the new security we have in place should prevent the same thing happening again. Is there any analogy here with the E.U. Referendum? Many people are stunned by the result and are waiting anxiously to see what will happen next — and I don’t just mean in the U.K. I know I have been rather repetitive on the subject, but every nation state is part of a greater whole. We inhabit the same planet. What happens in one part of the world affects those who live in another.

It will take time and money to resolve many of the questions that are forming in people’s minds. Pious platitudes about God being in charge are fine as far as they go, but they do not really comfort (i.e. strengthen) those who who have a sick thump in the stomach about what the future may hold for them and those they hold dear. And for those with an historical imagination, or even a grasp of politics and economics, there are some very grave questions indeed. Although it is early to talk of the break-up of the U.K. or the E.U., the loss of jobs and opportunities, sooner or later we shall have to face the consequences of Thursday’s vote. Optimists say the future for Britain will be better, brighter; the future for the E.U. will be better, brighter without Britain; but none of these assertions is actually based on fact as yet, only on opinion. Which brings me to the rub.

During the past few months, but especially over the last few days, many people have voiced opinions in damaging and divisive ways. In Social Media some have never let an opportunity for expressing their own views pass them by. There have been accusations and counter-accusations, name-calling, imputations of bad faith, expressions of unholy glee or diabolical despair. That is not the way to build unity or make the future safe for those who come after us. At the risk of stretching my web site analogy to breaking-point, may I suggest that what we all need to do now is to take a short pause. Instead of trying to browbeat others into thinking as we do, let’s listen to our own rhetoric, turn it back on ourselves and see how we like it. Let’s think about those who don’t see things as we do. For me personally there was never any question of an in/out campaign as such. It wasn’t a case of winning or losing but making the right choice as best I could, and not for narrow self-interest. I assume everyone else made their decision on the same basis even if they came to different conclusions. I am troubled about the result but for me the important thing now is to work and pray with the situation we have — and the very first thing we all need to do is to put things right with those we have injured, belittled or treated as less than Christ. Because, you see, it is Christ we wound in the person of the other.

I’m sorry.