Where We’ve Been Living
Here in the UK, we’ve been living of late in a barely-believable world of political and humanitarian drama. This has included the refugee crisis that’s come close to our shores via the Calais Jungle and multiplied thousands who have drowned at sea in attempts to make it to Europe via the dinghies of death. As humanitarian and political worlds collide, those in Calais were initially refused entry to our shores by the UK government but, under huge political and media pressure, several hundred children were eventually given asylum. Nevertheless, The Tories were pegged by the media as cruel and uncaring, if not thoroughly unjust in these events.
A Push to the Extremities
Additionally, in one of our most heated political moments of recent history, the UK voted in a referendum that we should leave the European Union (52% Brexit vs 48% Remain). This issue split the Tories and saw the then Prime Minister, David Cameron, quit his premiership in view of the outcome. The fierceness of the interactions in the aftermath speak for themselves. Not long afterwards, Donald Trump, (a self-made business tycoon), beat Hillary Clinton, (an American political royalty), at the ballot box for the Presidency of the United States of America. His views, rhetoric, and leadership style continue to cause consternation among many in Western liberal democracies.
This small handful of contentious, political events reveal a big move to the far right of politics in the UK and USA. It might be said that those holding moderate positions left and right, plus the centrists, are now viewed as having failed to deliver on their promises over a period of time. Consequently, there is a push to the extremities of politics. Indeed, with the surge of new Labour party members in favour of Jeremy Corbyn (500,000+ overall), who himself is quite far left on the political spectrum, shows this polarisation.
The reaction to the political events of the ‘right’ by our main media channels has, in the main, been scathing; the reaction to the political events of the right by followers of Jesus has, in the main, been varied. But…
On the one hand, many followers of Jesus have shown similar disgust to the media at the decisions of the political ‘right’, criticising political events as heartless, ruthless and thoughtless and only, therefore, perpetuating the plight of the downtrodden. On the other hand, there are many followers of Jesus who have been keeping quiet as their views are attacked in media spaces. These are they that have voted for Brexit due to concerns surrounding Europe, who prefer tighter immigration laws.
There are also followers of Jesus who voted Brexit for altogether different reasons than immigration. Their heads are down and they silently getting on with life hoping no one names and shames them. There is nothing new in this. Followers of Jesus have always differed on how to vote in light of their faith. This may infuriate or confuse some, but it has always been true. There is no one political party that espouses the message and purpose of Jesus of Nazareth. There just isn’t.
To those who are finding our Brexit reality merciless, the Calais jungle fiasco catastrophic, and who view Trump and/or Trump’s views as abhorrent – here are four bits of advice:
- Without backing off disagreement and robust critique, pray for those you detest in the political sphere. What credit is it to you if you only pray for those whom you agree with? Everyone does that.
- Genuinely forgive those you think have absolutely screwed the world up, even if you will never meet them. Choose not to malign them on social media. That doesn’t mean you can’t critique them of course!
- Have faith that the world will continue with God as truly capable of living with supposed ‘eejits’ in charge making ‘idiotic’ decisions on our behalf. I am concerned to see many Jesus-followers acting as if God isn’t here with us at all. I admire their political passion, but real hope doesn’t lie at the door of politics.
- Talk honestly about the flaws in your political leanings and share why they trouble you.
To those who are ‘right’/‘far right’, three bits of advice:
- Genuinely forgive those who are your friends/whom you trust who are trampling all over your deeply held political convictions. This may be something you wish to do privately. A public offer of forgiveness would also be powerful.
- Learn to take on-board those with very different political views from yours and perhaps be brave enough to sensitively share your views.
- Deliberately hang out with those who think differently from you. Talk honestly about the flaws in your political leanings and share why they trouble you.
The Golden Rule
What on Earth am I talking about?
“In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.”
Stuart Weir is the National Director of CARE of Scotland. He is also a theologian of work and is committed to seeing followers of Jesus develop a thoroughgoing spirituality of work that makes an impact for Christ. Stuart is also messy, definitely rugby not football and a lover of obscure European films.