Britain has just emerged from it’s most bruising political campaign in modern history. The EU referendum displayed both the beauty and ugliness of the democratic process. Voting is a right – a beautiful right. It’s something we should always cherish and never take for granted. Millions died so that all of us could be involved in determining who governs our nation rather than just a select few born into privilege. This is democracy. Yet the campaign which led up to the EU vote has tarnished the reputation of politics. Both sides of the referendum debate crossed a line in the course of arguing their respective cases and have consequently brought the integrity of politics into question. Nothing undermines credibility more than this.
For example, the ‘remain’ side wildly over-eggagerated the effects of brexit (remember the apocryphal threat of an emergency budget the day after a brexet vote?). Meanwhile, the ‘leave’ side implied that money saved from a brexit would be invested in the NHS (remember that bus travelling around the nation with ‘£350 million’ plastered across the side?). Both these central claims were mendacious.
Then there’s the issue of immigration. This was handled unwisely by both sides. The ‘remain’ campaign did not engage in an honest conversation about how our nation would invest in the necessary infrastructure to serve & care for a growing population (e.g. health services & housing etc). Meanwhile, elements of the ‘leave’ campaign allowed immigration to be used as a means of tapping into sections of the electorate who harbour baseless fear and racial prejudice. This was just wrong.
The EU referendum is now over. However the fallout in all the political parties continues, and may do so for many years to come. The public have glimpsed the raw ‘blood and guts’ of politics – the backstabbing, the egotism, the treachery & the dishonour. It has been disturbing to watch.
While the squabbling continues, the danger for our nation is that when politics gets back to ‘normal’, any rallying cries for national unity might be dismissed as hallow and hypocritical. Politicians must understand how cynical the public are of them and work quickly to heal the wounds. Ultimately, this distrust is potentially dangerous for our nation, especially in such uncertain times like these.
So how can we, as Christians, respond to all this? Here are two ways:
Remember, God is not taken by surprise by any of this. He is ultimately in control. The best way we can affirm our trust in him is to pray, pray & pray some more. But how should we pray? Paul the apostle wrote to Timothy and encouraged him with these words: ‘I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for all who are in authority so we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Saviour, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.’ 1 Timothy 2:1-4
Truth is priceless. Proverbs 23:23 says ‘Buy the truth and do not sell it’. ‘Truth’ here is referring to integrity. It’s costly to be honest. But the price is always worth it. Buying the truth doesn’t mean you’ll always win. However it’s better to lose in honour than win in dishonour. The latter stores up problems for the future. There’s a lesson all of us can learn.