How future generations will judge the decision to leave the European Union is a matter of speculation. What is apparent is that the young and those for whom opportunity was something to be grasped voted to remain while the over 65s and the disadvantaged opted to leave. It was an outcome that clarified new fault lines in contemporary Britain, with Wales voting to leave and Scotland to remain. The immediate aftermath is marked by uncertainty and a level of anxiety that occasionally erupts into recrimination.
In some ways the campaign and outcome were illustrative of our times. We live in a period of rapid change that breeds anxiety and an erosion of trust. People crave certainty and fall victim to the charismatic characters who pedal brands of fundamentalism as the antidote to all our problems. The desire to stand on solid ground is understandable but human life is much more about developing the ability to hold opposing forces in tension rather than being confined in a straight jacket. The freedom to explore and risk and grow are at the heart of Christian faith not yesterday’s certainties which become today’s prison.
If there are lessons for the church, as we also seek to navigate our way through the choppy waters of change, then it must be to listen to the dreams of the young as well as the disillusion of the disadvantaged. Our anxiety must not become that which informs our decision making. We have to find a way to share the dream that God has for us, to be less concerned about the structures and the programmes of the church and much more enthusiastic about the purpose. Trust is an important ingredient in all human relationships including those within the church and it is something that we all need to work at. It is to be hoped that future generations will look at us and judge that we learnt to trust each other as we shared our dreams and remained faithful to our calling.