As you know I rarely add my voice to political debate but the current referendum to stay or leave the EU appears to have made politicians of us all. So when it comes to voting tomorrow I am quite happy to take make the same confession as David Mitchel who in the Guardian wrote. 'Don’t misunderstand me, I know how I’m going to vote – I’m for Remain. I’m unshakeable on that. I just don’t know if I’m right. And I also don’t know if the side I’m going to vote for will win. I fear the consequences of its defeat and, to a lesser but still significant extent, I fear the consequences of its victory. I’m not finding any of this much fun.' Which to a great or lesser extent is why I've kept my mouth shut and my keyboard closed over recent weeks.
I mean, do any of us know? I know we like to think we have the upper hand, the stronger argument - the clearer stance, but for my part I have to approach it with a sense of both perspective and humility.
So in the light of not knowing - here is what I am thinking and it’s what I am thinking which has shaped my vote.
It appears to me that the world is a different place, and therefore requires a different approach to its governance. It strikes me we need greater co-operation not less. Building international relations for the common good takes the good will of neighbours joining together - this means opening our hearts to others not closing them down. Surely we are better off having a voice around the table than walking away from it. Negotiation is the currency of the new age not domination. A nation as great and mature as our own, holding as it does the fifth strongest economy in the world should have a voice in shaping our future together. What other grounds could we have in turning from this other than self-preservation which to my thinking is never the route to greatness.
Yes, we're all deeply concerned about immigration but fear is not the answer. International terrorism is a deep worry and radicalisation towards hatred a key issue of our time. Moving forward it is going to call for a higher level of information sharing - a feeling of we are tackling this together, in the same way that when the terror attacks on Paris happened we were embraced in a sense of mourning together not simply out of our common humanity but also because we are part of the Union. In a great piece written by several notable faith leaders I was encouraged by their words. 'The past 70 years have been the longest period of peace in Europe’s history. Institutions that enable us to work together and understand both our differences and what we share in common contribute to our increased security and sense of collective endeavour. What’s more, so many of the challenges we face today can only be addressed in a European, and indeed a global, context: combating poverty in the developing world, confronting climate change and providing the stability that is essential to tackling the migration crisis.'
Thirdly, I'm not given to conspiracy theories that have a foundation in interpreting the texts of the books of Daniel and Revelation in the context of the European Union. It can be fascinating to read such things but I wouldn't want to build my future on it any more than I would Micheal Drosnin's Bible Code. Some of us have been around too long to reconcile our eschatology with the current state of Europe. I grew up on a diet of end time teachings as a kid but interpretations come and go and we must not be given to superstition. Rather, if we want to delve into Biblical prophecy to help shed light on how to vote then reading Isaiah 58 would be a great place to start. Let our decision to act be driven by things that concerned the ancient prophets which were matters of justice, righteousness and truth along with the responsibilities we hold towards out neighbours.
Fourthly in matters of my own ignorance I must take a lead from those whose voices can be respected to shed light on such issues. So I ask - what position are prominent people taking on this? Is that list exhaustive? Is the weight of their collective voice and experience worthy of note? Have these people held public and professional office over a period of time so as to have credibility to speak? If so, then use their wisdom, understanding and knowledge to help develop your own decision.
Finally, the world is a dangerous place - yes. But it's also an exciting one. One in which the combined energy of people's creativity can help to bring pragmatic solutions to complex issues when we work together. I don't believe Jesus Christ came to build barriers but bridges. I follow the one who calls me to love my neighbour. I am a bridge builder - this is my calling. That is why I will vote to remain.