It hardly needs stating that we live in turbulent times. As yet another deadline comes and goes and the UK increasingly becomes the focus of incredulity, hilarity or pity across the world, it is opportune that Wychwood Circle has two speakers in the next couple of months to help us think through a moral (and inevitably political) stance on the Brexit divisions.
The Times journalist Janice Turner wrote recently that
Brexit has flung 65 per cent of the population, according to research by BritainThinks, to two opposing poles. ... So the minority in the centre, what I call "Brexit non-binary", ... have endured three years of roiling, upset guts.
It has been hard hearing our communities caricatured as duped and bigoted. ("I'm glad my constituents aren't as stupid as yours," said a Remain area Labour MP to another with a Leave seat.)
I don’t believe that non-binary minority are alone in having had their digestion or even their psychological stability upset by the madness of this recent period. Commentators (including our next guest speaker) have written about underlying anxieties, families divided, mental health damaged (64% reported this in the same survey), vital decisions postponed, non-British EU nationals struggling to confirm their ‘settled status’, etc. And all this on the basis that 37% of the electorate voted one way in a Yes/No referendum three years ago!
TRIBES, TRUTH ... AND RECONCILIATION?
Broadcaster and columnist (and former Canon of Christ Church, Oxford) Angela Tilby was one of the first to speak out about the division of the country into ‘two tribes’ – and that was a year ago. It seemed slightly exaggerated at that time to ask our second speaker, South African academic and priest Peter Silva, to speak under the title ‘Truth and Reconciliation’. One year on, it seems anything but extreme to imagine we might have to hold some sort of similar process to try and bring the country together again. The Archbishop of Canterbury has suggested that church people invite those of opposite views to tea on a Sunday afternoon; it may take more than that.
Angela Tilby will join us on May 12th in Milton Village Hall to speak about ‘People like us’: are we now two tribes?
Peter Silva will speak at Wychwood Library on June 9th on the topic Truth and Reconciliation, including a survey of the South African experience and its relevance to the UK and US today.