24 June 2016
‘The British public has spoken’ but, bearing in mind this has been written at six o’clock in the morning, the United Kingdom is now set to leave the European Union by a margin of some 4% following a referendum in which 72% of the eligible electorate cast its vote.
The process and events which follow are difficult to predict but there will be economic consequences of the pound dropping to a level not seen since 1985 and the possibility of a divided United Kingdom since Scotland, Northern Ireland and London voted by large majorities to remain in the EU whereas Wales and the rest of England took the opposite view.
Liberal Judaism is a religious organisation, interested in values not structures, and, whatever the details of the future governmental arrangements, it has, in my view something to contribute to the future of the United Kingdom and its citizens.
First, if the United Kingdom is to undergo a short or long term economic downturn Judaism demands protection for the weakest and most vulnerable in our society. The more fortunate (in an economic sense) of us must pay the price.
Second, Judaism advocates a measure of generosity and thoughtfulness concerning those with whom we disagree. Well known prohibitions on taking vengeance and bearing a grudge culminate in the aphorism, from Proverbs 24:17, ‘Do not rejoice when your enemy falls’.
Third, Judaism promotes the love of one’s ‘fellow citizen’ and of the stranger regardless of origin and those citizens of other European countries and elsewhere should be re-assured of a continuing welcome in our midst.
Fourth, it behoves all of us –particularly those in the public eye- to work together to fulfil the mission of Judaism –and presumably that of the politic too- to enhance the moral quality of our society so that the United Kingdom can be a beacon of ethical idealism in which freedom, justice and compassion are enhanced and from which regional and international responsibilities can be shared.
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