Wordle 381: Half Dead

 

381

For Wordle 381:

Last night they gathered with intent, forty-eight memos a lingering stench that could no longer be shrugged away. Behind the bluster of “doing the right thing” was the lure of the keys to Number 10.

When the frame is badly broken can the picture be restored? Is the crime of lying words so great that everything is irretrievably broken and no longer of use? Inside, the Wounded lived to fight another day; outside the circling hyenas beaten back for a season will return.

The Leaving Kind…


It’s official, we’re the leaving kind after all. Voting last Thursday concluded with a 52% majority that Great Britain’s future path lay outside the EU framework, ending a 43-year association. The easy conclusion – particularly given  how much the result has been affected by voted cast south of the Solway-Tweed line – is that insular England has held the Union hostage, but I suspect things are far more nuanced than that.

Voter turnout was high, over 30 million or 72% of eligible persons, indicative of how important the issues at stake were (framed largely by the cost of the EU,  its ever increasing bureaucracy  and control of borders). Much has also been made of how the vote to leave was favoured more by older folk than younger. The BBC as always has a fascinating breakdown of the numbers here.

In the immediate aftermath, David Cameron who campaigned vigorously for remaining announced he is to step down in October. The opposition Labour leader who also campaigned (some same less interestedly) for a remain option faces a renewed leadership challenge. Here in Scotland, the noises are all about a second independence vote being ‘highly likely’, a straw the SNP were always likely to clutch at in their quest to extract Scotland from the Union.  The economic impact has been swift, the pound fell to a 30-year low before recovering somewhat, the FTSE 100 losing 8% before also recovering and Moody’s downgrading the UK’s credit rating to ‘negative‘ following the result.

De-tangling the legal, economic and political machinery of the United Kingdom from the EU is likely to require significant time and resources, given the significant integration with EU frameworks over the last 70 years. Formal separation still requires the UK to trigger the so-called Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty, a process which provides for a 2-year road map for negotiations.

Private  conversations with a number of friends leading up to the vote illustrated the difficulties. On the one hand the cost of the EU – the so-called new £350 million hospital every week – appealed to very many people, as did  the opportunity to claw back control of laws and regulations which a section of the population felt drove the country increasingly towards a ‘god-less’ future, a point made by the Telegraph’s Charles Moore here.

Much like the Scottish Independence referendum in 2014, the result highlights how deeply fractured the country is; Scotland vs England and Wales, the young vs the old, affluent urban London vs the rest of England – the contrasts go on and on. A number of leave voters appear to have voted in protest, in the belief that their single vote wouldn’t sway the overall outcome. To their surprise, our new reality is an advisory to government to initiate leaving the EU. It is by no means certain what happens next. By choosing to step down, David Cameron might just have had the last laugh – leaving the actual decision to act on the ‘mandate’ to those who might benefit from blaming him. They – Boris Johnson, Theresa May, Michael Gove or whoever else inherits the seat – now have to deal with the legacy of whatever happens next and what that leads to in the long run ; if article 50 is triggered or not.

The wider context is what worries me a bit – the rise of far right, anti-immigrant parties across Europe (France, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands) and Trump’s ascent in America – perhaps speak to an under current of concern around borders, and the loss of a certain way of life which main stream politics has failed to address.

All told, there are days of critical importance ahead – I hope we haven’t handed our children a poisoned chalice.

 

NaPoWriMo Day 23 – House, Of Cards

house of cards
[Source]

If words were everything
We would be halfway
To the moon and back,
A streak of light, white-bright
Against the night sky
Driving darkness far away
Into the distance
Of a forgotten age.

If promises were
The elixir of life
We would nymph-like never age,
Never yield to the chiseling
Hand of time, etching its
Designs into our very bones.

Word by word they have built up
Grandiose things, carcasses that
Loom large, Colossus-like over us;
Selling us bamboo dust for sandal wood,
Trading Hope for the control
A snake charmer’s pungi wields.

When truth like a troubled troubadour
Arrives, we find that we’ve been had,
The facades we have pined for, a house;
But of cards.

Loosely related to the prompt for Day 23 – Card

Reflecting on the Scottish Referendum: A Call to Social Justice

A few months ago, people across the length and breadth of the nation of Scotland went to the polls to answer the question, “Should Scotland be an independent country?” At stake was the very future of the United Kingdom, and Scotland’s place in it. On one hand, the governing Scottish National Party staked its reputation on a ‘Yes’ vote, alongside the Scottish Greens and the Scottish Socialists under the aegis of Yes Scotland, whilst Scottish Labour, the Scottish Conservative Party, and the Scottish Liberal  Democrats took a pro-Union Stance under the Better Together banner.

As the vote count came to an end on the morning of September 19th in victory for the Better Together campaign, what became clear was that the keenly contested campaign had revealed deep fissures in the very fabric of the Nation. The romance of nationalism and the historical antecedents notwithstanding (Scotland as a distinct entity has existed in some shape or form since about 840 AD and 2014 was the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn which saw the English army defeated by the forces of King of Scots Robert the Bruce), economic considerations, fair and equitable distribution of wealth and protecting access to the NHS in the face of the (real or imagined) threat of its privatisation featured strongly as a subject of contention.

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The HAVES vs HAVE NOTS narrative seemed supported by analysis of the voting patterns which showed strong correlations between greater unemployment and support for independence, and age above retirement with support for staying with the Union (perhaps due to concerns over pensions).

The immediate aftermath involved clashes between Unionists and independence supporters. As recently as October, a pro – independence rally in Glasgow still managed to attract over 6,000 people, perhaps indicative that even the passage of time has done little to soothe the sense of grievance a significant proportion of the nation still feels.

The challenge going forward therefore is one of reconciliation; recreating a sense of togetherness and genuine belief in all and sundry that the nation belongs equally to everyone – rich, poor, old, young and old alike. That sense can only be fostered by delivering on the sound bites trundled out by both sides of the campaign, mainly a fairer, more productive, empowered Scotland.

There is an economic argument for a fairer, more egalitarian Scotland. Equal opportunities and lower unemployment will deliver greater productivity, and enable more people contribute to the state in the form of taxes, rather than constitute a drain the system.

There will also be benefits, purely from the perspective of enlightened self-interest. It stands to reason that crime, social delinquency and violence are likely to drop as more people are gainfully employed. Those who are not, if they have access to the opportunities to improve and are catered for the interim will also see less of an incentive to crime.

The arguments for social justice go beyond secular and economic ones; there is also a biblical imperative. Passages like Deuteronomy 15:11 –  For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land’, being a case in point.

Time and time again, the call to ‘do good and seek justice (Isaiah 1:17), not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor (Zech 7:9,10), defend the rights of the poor and needy (Prov 31:8,9), to do justice and love kindness (Micah 6:8) and protect the resident alien, the fatherless and the widow (Jeremiah 22:3) are repeated throughout the Old Testament. When Israel failed to heed this call, they were punished severely by God (Amos 5:11-15, Ezekiel 16:49,50).

Elsewhere a social justice component is explicitly commanded as part of true and acceptable worship – knowing the rights of the poor (Proverbs 29:7), letting the oppressed go free, sharing bread with the hungry and homeless (Isaiah 58:12) as well as visiting the orphan and the widow (James 1:27).

Jesus himself, after being tempted and returning to Galilee in the power of the Holy Spirit chose to reveal himself in the Synagogue in his home town of Nazareth by reading from the passage in Isaiah which spoke of his mission to proclaim the good news and set at liberty those who were oppressed (Luke 4; 18, 19). Beyond that, he also highlighted acts of kindness as one of the things we will be judged by at his return (Matthew 25:31-46). The Apostles also weighed in in their writings – John enjoined us to love not in word but in deed (1 John 3:17,18), Paul in distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality (Romans 12:13) and James to treat all without partiality (James 2:1-4)

The danger of all this is to end up flying the flag of social justice, for its own sake alone, as an end in itself or as an opportunity to ship sounds bites, hog the limelight and portray ourselves as good citizens. However as Christians, everything we do on earth occurs within a context – that of being Jesus’ hands and feet on earth, utilising the resources, skills and time that he has given us to further His kingdom. In these days in which the popular narrative is one of the death of the church and its increasing irrelevance, being champions of social change, in our communities – our next door mission fields – may well be one way that the tide can be turned, providing a door of opportunity to ‘do all for the Glory of God’.

***

Originally written for my Church Newsletter, reproduced here for archival purposes. 

WebReads… 28Jan

    1. Genetically engineering plants to spot bombs may be the future of counter terrorism..
    2. LED teeth may be the new cool.. If only in Japan..
    3. Want to make the transition from talk to bed? Social media might be it after all. So much for Gladwell’s ‘diss’ of social media.
    4. Apparently brain scans can identify a predisposition to transexuality..
    5. His Grace – Archbishop Crammer – weighs in on the lack of political voices speaking up on the abortion debate.
    6. Tyler Blanski encourages us to re-think sex
    7. One bloke got busted for importing cockroaches… HT @relevantmag