Saturday, January 05, 2019

New Skills for 2019

There is a lot of waiting in the Bible. How long O Lord, how long? is often a refrain of a suffering people.  'In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions' (1 Samuel 3:1). There are 400 years or so between Malachi and Matthew.

A social media post over Christmas wished all the best to families who might fall out over Brexit Christmas lunch discussions. It was posted by someone who is at the heart of their community and has a huge range of followers.

One comment, from someone I don't know, was along the lines of  'We're all no deal leavers round this table so no falling out here.'

So here's the problem. Although different party political voting intentions seem to be able to exist round the table, we don't tend to sit down for meals with people from the opposite side of the leave/remain vote to us.

And when we do, how can I put this nicely, all my carefully-honed debating skills are irrelevant. This debate never was, and still isn't, about logic. It's about emotion.

How do you change someone's emotional mind?

Hold that thought for a while because something quite odd happened to me last year. The Wolves (Wolverhampton Wanderers FC) are the sworn enemies of the Baggies (West Bromwich Albion FC) and I have been rude about them and their fans most of my life. Earlier this season the black and gold was awarded the accolade 'best kit in the Premiership' by a decent newspaper and strangely, for all my hatred of the old gold scum (I also support Leamington FC but will only buy an away shirt because the home kit is gold), I found myself agreeing. Their white change strip is pretty decent too. What's more they have been playing entertaining footie and I have enjoyed watching them. I hope they stay up.

You need to understand that this has not been a logical change of mind. Hatred of the Wolves was never about logic. This is about something emotional clicking. That which I hated I now appreciate.

So it is possible, although I may need to give myself a harsh word or two. And I may change back.

I believe our country will come round to a common sense and logical point of view where the division over Brexit is a thing of the past. But we will have to wait for that click moment. We probably don't know what will cause it. We may need to wait for a fair while. I don't believe we have taken a great step forward for sovereignty and independence but I respect those who do. I will contribute to trying to value the alien and the stranger, sharing the wealth and being part of whatever European and global community develops.

Don't get me wrong. I am still sad and angry about Brexit. But that won't move anyone forward.

After an Advent of posting a daily musing on the theme of waiting I feel a big wait is coming along. Maybe a biblical wait.

The social media discussions about Brexit/Remain have not, largely, been edifying. It has felt like being in a zoo and watching neighbouring animals throw excrement at each other. This is not a fault of social media. It has allowed many more people than usual to see life as it actually is. It has reminded us that a fair bit of demarcation in society is not a bad thing. And, as on all occasions when I have found myself caught up in heated exchanges on the edge of violence, the only way through is to take the emotion out of it and step back. Shouting at shouters has never worked, and never will. I'm not sure I would have enjoyed Christmas round a table where everyone else was proudly a no-deal leaver. Not because I hate disagreement - I have regularly over my life been in a minority of one over some issues - but because I would have been robbed of companions who listened to reason.

Hugo Rifkind in The Times this week wrote, 'I remain a Remainer and I probably always will, but I cannot pretend not to notice that a streak of Remainersim has developed, particularly online, which is as stupid, paranoid and exclusionary as any other populism. Its adherents ... wanting little more than to scream "get over it, you lost!" at those who have had so much fun  shrieking it at them.'

He went on to suggest that the future will have to involve getting on with those we consider to be stupid or liars.

(The Times , Tuesday January 1st 2019)

New Labour found power by finding a Third Way. They were Conservative Lite and slightly left in appearance. They embraced wealth vociferously and publicly. They kept quieter about the bravest attempt since 1947 to move masses of people out of poverty.

In 2016 someone took the political cake which had been sliced in roughly the same way for years and cut it across the middle. If nothing else the maths of a new third way is now complex.

Next time I am asked to vote, assuming the candidates are the likely suspects I will have to take a deep breath and place a cross next to the name that I least hate. I do understand how people felt about Trump/Clinton now.

We now use democratic process rather than asking the prophets to anoint or announce God's chosen leader. Which usually happened after a long wait. But the responses to the opening questions I posed were Moses, Samuel and Jesus. I may not see them in my lifetime, but I pray for the leaders who are to come.

No comments: