Thought for the Week

OK, that’s the referendum over with and we can all get on with our lives. It’s been the hot topic for months and the campaigns have been on the go for the past two years – but now it’s time to get back to normal.

Or is it? Some think, including me, that things will never be the same again. Some who have never taken an interest in politics before have become activists. Some who have never voted in their lives have enthusiastically joined in leafleting and attending meetings. Some have engaged in passionate debates with family, friends and neighbours.

Many of our 16 and 17 year olds have taken their opportunity to be given a vote very seriously indeed. In my experience some of the most penetrating questions and challenges have come from these young people.

That’s the positive side, but the flip side is still with us and may be for some time. What about the memories of verbal abuse, the tearing down of campaign materials, the shouting down of speakers when we say we believe in free speech?

There is a lot of repair work to be done and the churches have a part to play. Some have held services of reconciliation, but people have to be willing to take part for them to be effective. Perhaps it is for individuals on a day to day basis in everyday life to be effective in promoting a coming together and being proactive in reconciliation – regardless of which side they voted for?

In 2nd Corinthians 5 we are advised “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation”. That Ministry of Reconciliation is also for us today – now.

No doubt some relationships have been strained during the referendum campaign and passions may have risen beyond the comfortable and sensible, but passions can be harnessed for good and we can move on together for the sake of good relationships so that our friends remain our friends; and also for the overall good of our country. No, things may never be the same again as they can always be better.

During the week before the voting took place I was part of a Quaker retreat at Boswell House, the wonderful Retreat Centre in Montrose. Tucked away down a close from the busy High Street we had as our theme ‘Let Peace Begin With Me’. The aftermath of the result of the referendum was high on our agenda and we thought of ways in which we could help those who would be deeply affected whatever the outcome.

In fact, we will all have to come to terms with our feelings, thoughts and emotions as a result of this epic referendum.

It was simple at the end – pray for the politicians who still have difficult decisions to make, listen to those who are hurting, attempt to reconcile one with another and above all remember we can only do this if Peace Begins with Me.

It will take time, effort and good will and things can never be the same again – time moves us on due to the experiences we have had during this important time in history. We should be grateful for the democratic processes which have allowed us to have a say in the future path of our country.

In my own involvement as a ‘new’ campaigner, I worked alongside some who I would not normally have come into contact politically, made many friends and learned much from them. Now is the time for the ‘ministry of reconciliation’.

Please join me.

Pamala McDougall

Member of The Religious Society of Friends

(Quakers).