Brexit: What Will be Missed Most is the Intangible Togetherness – Archbishop Addresses British Irish Association Service
“For a short period of twenty years in the history of an offshore cluster of islands, we have had the chance to explore and to express our cultures together in a way that had become, if I may use the word, un–Bordered. My question is this: Are we in danger of having squandered these twenty years out of carelessness and callousness combined?”
The run up to Brexit has created untold confusion for the ordinary person and lasting distrust towards those who carry both the responsibilities and privileges of statesmanship in the political realm, the Archbishop of Dublin said in a sermon during last weekend’s annual meeting of the British Irish Association.
Preaching at an ecumenical service of readings and prayers at Pembroke College, Oxford, on Sunday morning (September 9), Archbishop Jackson said that for the ordinary person the full effects of Brexit had not yet sunk in.
“The debate, in my opinion, is being conducted at too celestial a level for people who have no option but to balance earthly budgets and weigh up earthly deprivations. While the many seek to understand, in the face of an elite who are understandably obliged to keep their cards close to their chests, the thing that will be missed most of all is the intangible togetherness caused by cultural and community capital now in danger of being eroded,” he stated.
The Archbishop added: “Economics does indeed dominate our world; but it does not inspire as many of us as its gurus think; it is something that most of us endure and hope to survive. For a short period of twenty years in the history of an offshore cluster of islands, we have had the chance to explore and to express our cultures together in a way that had become, if I may use the word, un–Bordered. My question is this: Are we in danger of having squandered these twenty years out of carelessness and callousness combined? The security of Western Europe, with the Irish Border as the contemporary expression of the perpetual conundrum called The Irish Question, must be paramount but ought not to be paranoid over the next number of weeks and months”.
He reminded the congregation that territory, landscape and fields as a concept and as a reality were shared in the language and the literature of politicians and church people. Drawing on the reading from Jeremiah 32.6–15 he said that by buying a field Jeremiah encouraged the besieged people of Israel to make a go of an as yet unseen future, to establish themselves there and to create and build up family life rather than mourning for themselves and accepting from themselves “the narrative of negativity, the malaise of malfunction and the victory of victimhood”.
The Archbishop added that the Parable of the Sower pointed to the futility of sowing on inappropriate ground if one is interested in a fruitful harvest.
Pointing to the World Cup Finalists, the Irish Women’s Hockey Team, he said that women from Northern Ireland played for Ireland alongside women from the Republic of Ireland. They did everyone in Ireland more than proud while making history, he said adding: “Their togetherness was unmistakable”.
He expressed his disappointment and dismay at “the squandering of opportunities for togetherness in the face of both wilful and hapless divisiveness” both in the political arena and in the church world. Looking to his own church he said that people were easily pushed to the experience of exclusion by an institution that prided itself on punching above its own weight while at the same time not doing enough blue–sky thinking for the good of those outside its walls.
“It would be charming to suggest that we are faced with a choice. The fact is that the choice has been made and we are faced with the consequences and out–workings of choice. Brexit asks of us all that we seek urgently for generosity in the egg–timer of history. Because that, in fact, is all we inhabit,” the Archbishop concluded.