It was a relief to read it, to be honest. It’s retweets and likes meant I’m far from the only one to feel it.
- June 16, 2016: murder of young and inspiring Labour MP, Jo Cox
- June 23, 2016: UK votes to leave EU in Brexit Referendum (52% to 48%)
- March 22, 2017: individual Terrorist attacks Houses of Parliament, in Westminster: 5 dead, 49 injured
- May 22, 2017: Suicide bomber attacks Ariana Grande concert in Manchester: 23 dead, 119 injured
- June 4, 2017: London Bridge terrorist attacks: 8 dead, 48 injured
- June 8, 2017: unnecessary snap General Election results in a hung parliament: everybody loses out (IMHO) – the UK is left with no clear leadership just as Brexit negotiations are about to start.
- June 14, 2017: Grenfell Tower in West London burns down, killing many: 30 dead, 74 injured, 28+ missing presumed dead – images (r) from the Press Association on the BBC.
By no means am I trying to marginalise the atrocities and horrors elsewhere from the last 12 months, as our media frequently does. I could have mentioned:
- those in Europe: Nice, Normandy, Berlin, Paris, Stockholm
- and beyond: Kabul, Aleppo and all over Syria, Tehran, frequently in Pakistan, throughout Iraq, St Petersburg, Diyarbakir, Thailand, Philipines, Mali – the list goes on and on – see Wiki 2016 and Wiki 2017).
- Nor can I ignore the election of USA President Drumpf last November – which affects the world. It’s simply that we naturally and rightly seek to understand our own contexts before/alongside others.
The Queen got it right, for her official birthday statement yesterday. We do indeed feel a very sombre national mood.
So what’s to say?
- Woe betide those who rush to discern the meaning of local, let alone geopolitical, events. Who knows what it all means? Followers of this blog know what I feel about Brexit well enough. If anything, the whole business feels even more like a disaster now than it did a year ago – but then again, I could be totally wrong about that too. But what seems not to be in doubt is a period of national humbling. The UK, and perhaps even the influence of the entire Anglophone sphere, seems to be experiencing a decline. We are not as robust, secure, stable, or even worthy of respect as we might like to think. I’m not sure that is such a bad thing. After all, why should we have such influence – it’s certainly not a right. Where there is respect, it needs to be earned. I’m not sure we are doing that so well in our national and political life.
- Brexit is a case in point. I’m not talking about the politics now. The negotiations are due to start tomorrow – and it will all happen. But I’m talking about the manner in which we have reached this point: leave AND remain campaigns founded on falsehood, fear-mongering and short-termist expediency robbed either side of the moral high ground. Then UK’s AND EU’S boisterous, and even arrogant rhetoric going into the negotiations – again both sides seem vindictive and angry. Then there’s the economic and political impact on our place in the world outside the EU. I simply don’t believe the propaganda I’m afraid. We’re greatly diminished by it all – and that’s even before the mountains to climb of trade negotiations with other nations and trading blocs. What a mess. But perhaps, just perhaps – if Britain is a little poorer, less pushy, less haughty as a result, that is no bad thing. We no longer have an empire. We’re a medium sized country with disproportionate wealth and influence. Which we have too frequently squandered. Let’s get a bit more real.
- What we need is consensus-building, and indeed nation-building. A greater degree of national humility. And a renewed commitment to TRUE tolerance (not the politically correct version which is totally blind to the intolerance that forced Tim Farron into the utterly regrettable need to resign).
What we need is Jo Cox’s legacy of moderation and cooperation with those who are different. It’s got to start now.
But as a Christian believer, I do hold to these realities:
- God is still God
- God’s Kingdom still stands and indeed grows worldwide (regardless of what happens to the UK)
- Justice WILL prevail and good WILL triumph. This has never been an excuse to disregard the pursuit of justice in this world. But I believe more strongly in the goodness of the coming Day of Justice than ever. That matters profoundly for those who grieve and despair in these dark days. For yes, the more background that emerges about the Grenfell Tower tragedy, the clearer it seems that this is a matter of grave injustice.
- God’s people must stand for truth and truthfulness, love and sacrifice, mercy and justice.
The aspects of British global activity that make me proudest are those that reflect all of these latter values. So with renewed humility, we must seek to live them out. For the United Kingdom’s sake; for the Kingdom of God’s sake.
So now there’s another atrocity – this time driven by hatred of Muslims. Terrible and indefensible.
It goes on – but everything I said still stands