Number 10 Downing Street has a world-famous door. Did you know it can only be opened from the inside? There is no outside handle. A security guard has to let you in. To live in that house you have to be elected by the British people. To be allowed in, you have to be invited.
The Story Behind a Door– there are many. In the house behind that door, many decisions are made, including the one to give the British people a vote on whether to remain a member of the European Union.
Yesterday in the UK there was shock at the Brexit result. The result was followed by an outpouring of derision of people who had voted to leave. Suggesting that the opinion of older / rural / working class voters was less valid than others who wanted to stay.
The result and the reaction caused me to think:
In South Africa within my life time people were not allowed to vote because of their skin colour. We call it apartheid.
Just over a hundred years ago half the population was not allowed to vote because of their gender. Men argued that women did not understand politics and could not be trusted to choose wisely. We call the fight against this suffrage.
I did not vote for Brexit. I wanted my children to remain European citizens despite the very many flaws of the EU. I did not want to appear to turn our backs on our European neighbours or my European friends living here in the UK.
However if we start to suggest to our children that the only people worthy to vote are the highly educated, city dwelling – under 60s, we are ruining our children’s future too; because we are teaching them to despise those who think differently to us.
I reluctantly voted to remain, and I agonised over my decision for 6 weeks. The EU is not democratic, the EU does not wish to reform and its intended aim is to form a secular super state. Having said that I feared voting out would destabilise the UK and Europe; I feared that we would then get a more right wing government and more austerity for those who can bear it least. I also felt it would appear that we had turned our backs on Europe in its hour of need.
However the majority, disagreed. They voted to leave. Today the British press and many on social media are describing Leavers as ignorant racists. I know and am related to several Leavers. They are not racists. Many of my patients are also Leavers. Their experience of living in rural England led many to vote out. They felt betrayed by the EU and the Westminster policitians.
Both fascists and communists believe that only a small subsection of the ruling elite have opinions worthy of deciding the future of a country and that the concerns and experience of the rest does not matter. Dear Fellow Brits, in our upset and anxiety let’s not be like them, let’s not belittle those we disagree with; or teach our children to. Everyone over 18 is entitled to vote. No one vote is more important than another because no one person is more precious than another.
We need to find a way to Brexit, together. Regardless of age, employment status, race, geography, education, we are in this together.
Lord, please help us. Many are anxious, many are afraid, there is so much division and uncertainty, please have mercy on us.
May the next person to reside behind that door, our next prime minister, be the person you choose. May the UK remain an outward looking, compassionate nation. May we not metaphorically shut our door to those in need of sanctuary in our land.
May we remember that ultimate power does not lie behind the door to Number 10 Downing Street, or the White House. You are sovereign. And you can be trusted.