Scotland has decided.
That’s it. As a nation we can be proud of the level of engagement the #indyref generated – in our age of apathy, and disillusionment with politicians, a turnout of 85% was impressive. Once we go back to ballots to elect a person, I doubt we will keep the vote at this level. I suspect the electorate do care about political debate, just not the ad hominem point scoring played by professional politicians. MPs and MSPs: please take note.
But, there are now two big questions to address: Reconciliation and Deprivation
There is no longer a 45%, or 55%, or even an 85%! There is only one Scotland. Our nation has to come together as one to face the enormous challenges presented to us. That doesn’t mean we stop caring, or speaking about the issues – but the debate has to move on from the referendum’s binary choice, to normal political engagement.
It can’t be a superficial change. It has been refreshing to see how quickly my social media streams drained of political symbols after Thursday’s vote. But changing your Facebook profile certainly isn’t costly. Reconciliation can’t be done on the cheap.
That’s why I’m disappointed with Scotland’s foremost churchman. I couldn’t believe my ears Friday morning (BBC coverage, about 7:20am) as John Chalmers suggested his plan for reconciliation: Go and find someone from the other side and take a “selfie” with them. It’s a sad symptom of the Church in Scotland: she has forgotten her foundation, and embraced the cheap self-indulgence of the age. The Church doesn’t exist to encourage people to be nice to each other – we exist to call people to radical discipleship: Take up your cross and follow Jesus. I suspect many parts of the Church can’t call people to costly grace because they don’t believe in a God whose grace was costly.
God’s model of reconciliation wasn’t to send his Son to take a cheap selfie with fallen people; to show off a chummy picture on social media. He came to die in the place of people who had rejected God, God’s ways, and the good of God’s world. As Paul put it, himself he emptied, taking the form of a slave, and then he went to the cross and died.
If there’s going to be reconciliation, it’s going to be costly. If Scotland is to move forward as one, both the 45% and the 55% are going to have to die to their division, and work as one. Leaving the fight we invested so much in for the last two years is where the real cost is going to be found. And I think – even for my Christian friends on both sides of the debate – that will be hard.
Never let it be said that Scotland’s Presbyterian ministers offered only empty ideals, or pious rhetoric. Here’s a practical suggestion:
Today, there’s a lot of talk about a movement emerging: #the45. I can see why galvanising a partisan movement like this might be good for a future Independence battle. But there might be a more refreshing route. What if the diverse elements of the grassroots Yes campaign were to open up to include the huge number of No voters who today share the desire to hold Westminster to account for more powers? That can only be done if they forsake their identity as a vehicle for Independence. Moving on from the fight that ended on Thursday will be costly, because the way ahead doesn’t represent the interests of the 45% over against the 55%. It has to include all of us.
If you think that’s impossible, consider this picture:
This needs another post – but this is why reconciliation can’t be cheap: the problems we face are huge, and demanding.